How the Flexibility and Interdisciplinarity Built into the BASc Curriculum Present Challenges
The interdisciplinary nature of the degree itself has the potential to challenge such an education, which is intended to be broadly based in the arts and sciences and to develop well-rounded thinkers capable of addressing the multifaceted, real-world problems of today’s world. However, the criticisms of the Bachelor of Arts and Sciences (BASc) degree at UCL show a significant discrepancy between how the program is conceived and implemented. The students complained that the core modules were “irrelevant” and not connected to reality. This reflects a broader debate about the effectiveness of interdisciplinary learning, in which this balancing act between specialization and generalization is contested. At the heart of the problem, many students are required to take courses that, in their views, are not linked to either their academic scope or their perceived paths to occupational careers. This is further complicated by the need to “sell” the value of this degree to potential employers. You may not be able to see it immediately. Shallow skills may be prohibitive in other fields, such as STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) or healthcare.
Where Alternative Pathways, Such as the ISPS Course, Offer More Focused Learning
Compared to the BASc, the Integrated Social and Political Sciences (ISPS) program is more specialized and, therefore, more focused, helping students concentrate on those areas where academic input is likely to be most helpful. This focus on depth rather than breadth addresses some of the criticisms levelled at the BASc by providing a curriculum where each module directly relates to the student’s chosen study area. Thus, the structural differences between such programs may underscore the importance of curriculum design in meeting educational and career goals.
Similarly, the demand for courses with hands-on applications in most STEM fields may signal a growing demand for education that prepares students directly for the workforce. Core disciplines have a vocational orientation and are often considered more valuable to students and employees, especially in health care, engineering, and the physical sciences. The BASc core modules have been further complicated by the move towards distance learning in general and by world events. Students have noted that forums inhibit open and meaningful discussion of topics that would otherwise be of general interest or would enhance the learning experience. This only diminishes the educational value of these courses, not to mention the focus on analytical skills and communication that should be an essential part of any discipline.
Remote learning has also opened many doors for students considering transferring to different programs, which shows readiness for further searching for alternatives in conformity with academic and professional aspirations. This broader question was indicative of a wider trend in higher education about how teaching and the content of the curriculum need to change to keep students engaged and learning in a digitally saturated world.
When Considering Employability, Mathematical and STEM Subjects Emerge as More Attractive
Employability is often at the heart of the debate about interdisciplinary degrees like the BASc. Critics and students, on the other hand, argue that subjects with a heavy math element, such as those offered in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields, clearly articulate pathways to high-demand careers such as banking and engineering. In part, this is a function of the practical skills and expertise these disciplines provide – skills readily recognized and valued by employers. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that confusion about the BASc degree is compounded by a perception among employers that it is too general. Although some graduates have been successful, the general public prefers more directly applied degrees. This allows students to have a longer and deeper discussion about what it means to choose fulfilling but practical academic pathways – focusing on the need for universities to offer programs that meet their educational and career goals. Critics of the BASc program say: “Students are only choosing fields with applied skills and clear career paths. The repeated mention of options such as health care, engineering, and the physical sciences is a result of their direct applicability and the perception that they provide a stronger foundation for employment. This shift in preference reflects a more significant change in the value of education in today’s job market.
On the other hand, the dialogue also reflects the multilayered sophistication of the student’s understanding of the trade-offs between breadth and disciplinary depth in an interdisciplinary way. While some enjoy being well-rounded by engaging in diverse subjects, the consensus is toward degrees that provide practical skills and pathways to future employment. All of these trends point to a changing attitude toward higher education, which is increasingly bound to evaluate a program in terms of its ability to prepare students for the challenges of the professional world.
The Bachelor of Arts and Sciences (BASc) curriculum is structured to expose students to a broader range of subjects across the arts and sciences, creating flexible thinkers. The challenge, however, is that the core modules are often found to be irrelevant to the students’ personal academic interests or career aspirations. However, this can dilute deep learning in some areas into a broad approach, which would ultimately make it difficult for students to develop the specialized knowledge that is highly valued in most professional fields.
Where does the alternative such as ISPS stand as opposed to BASc?
Other programs offer a more tailored education compared to BASc, such as Integrated Social and Political Sciences (ISPS). It allows students to focus on specific areas of interest where academic contributions can be significant and directly supportive of the chosen field of study. This close working relationship seems to address some of the criticisms of the BASc, as each module contributes in a meaningful way to the student’s education and career aspirations.
What has the move to remote learning done to the core modules in BASc?
Distance learning has particularly affected the interactivity and engagement between students and with the core modules of the BASc. Students have reported that the online option is limited because they miss out on discussions, important tools that add value in deepening understanding and fostering critical thinking skills. This trend towards online or digital learning environments has, on the other hand, downgraded the value and effectiveness of the interdisciplinary perspective that the BASc seeks to offer as a program.
At what point do students start thinking about transferring out of the BASc Program?
Some students have had second thoughts about participating in the BASc program because they found that it did not fit with their academic interests or career aspirations.