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    • 27 MAR 24
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    Policy 5401 Update: A Small Win, A Larger Issue

    Policy 5401 Update: A Small Win, A Larger Issue

    A Small But Important Win

    The journey of Policy 5401 has led to a small win and also raised awareness of a larger issue for the FSA and our members. This policy went very quickly from the revision stage in November to a rushed approval at the Wednesday, March 20, 2024 Education Councial (EdCo) meeting—rushed compared to, for example, the attendance policy revision, which was introduced last year and is still in the revision stages.

    Although Policy 5401 was approved by EdCo for submission to the Board of Governors (BoG) last Wednesday, we did achieve a small win thanks to the efforts of FSA members sitting on the Council. Your elected EdCo FSA representatives asked probing questions and then proposed an amendment to the policy motion, which passed. The result? The revised Policy 5401 will be held to a tight two-year review window, instead of the standard seven-year review window, which sometimes stretches even longer. This two-year review window means the FSA can start work immediately towards setting up a representative working group for Policy 5401’s next review as soon as possible—with ample faculty representation and better transparency and accountability built into the process.

    Through FSA member, Board, and Staff presence at the most recent Board of Governors and Education Council meetings, and through our advocacy efforts over the past months, we have raised the awareness of these governance bodies and BCIT management regarding our concerns about transparency and the lack of robust consultation in the policy revision process.

    The Next Chapter

    Policy 5401 still needs to be approved by the BoG prior to coming into force.*

    The FSA is following up with EdCo about some unresolved issues. One concern is the failure of EdCo to provide any response—not even a confirmation of receipt—to Departments and individuals who sent feedback to EdCo during the community consultation phase. In many cases, extensive, detailed feedback was submitted, feedback into which our members poured a lot of time and thought; Departments met and crafted Department responses bringing together the expertise and perspectives of their collective, which is no small task. To receive no acknowledgement from EdCo, even when follow up was requested multiple times, is dismissive at best and signals a flawed consultation mechanism.

    Another concern is the existence of inaccuracies on the EdCo briefing note associated with Policy 5401, justifying the new policy changes and purporting to respond to community feedback. For example, the briefing note lists a series of so-called consultation meetings. However, prior to Fall 2023, any discussions held were not about Policy 5401 but rather about something referred to as the “Credential Framework Review”. Policy specifics were not discussed in this series of meetings. In fact, the actual draft policy changes were not shared with the community until November 1, 2023.

    Claiming that earlier discussions of the “Credential Framework Review” count as consultation on Policy 5401 is misleading. These meetings—which in some cases were information sharing meetings, not consultations—took place long before the policy was edited and shared with the BCIT community. Furthermore, despite asking multiple times, we have not received confirmation from EdCo that a proper Policy 5401 working group existed, a working group which should’ve included faculty voices. It’s true that a high level “Credential Framework Review Task Group” held meetings many months before Policy 5401 was edited, but this group was disbanded in June, 2023 and had no involvement in Policy 5401 revision.

    At the EdCo meeting on March 20, the question was raised: Who reviewed the community consultation submissions? It was shared in open session that only managers reviewed the community’s submissions: specifically, the EdCo Chair, Vice Chair, Standing Policy Committee Chair, and Policy Champion. No faculty participated in reviewing, theming, or responding to community submissions, even though three faculty sit on EdCo’s Standing Policy Committee (two FSA and one BCGEU faculty).

    According to our FSA Collective Agreement, consultation is the serious exchange of information and ideas before action is taken. Discussion that does not create a channel for two-way, robust debate is not true consultation. Meetings prior to November 1, 2023, when the policy language was made available and community consultation opened, are merely preliminary and cannot be considered consultation on the policy itself—especially when, prior to Fall 2023, these meetings were not about Policy 5401 but rather about something referred to as the “Credential Framework Review”.


    The FSA’s position was never “for” or “against” Policy 5401; the FSA’s position has always been a deep concern with the lack of transparency and accountability in the consultation process.

    The FSA will continue to actively monitor this issue. In particular, we want to work closely with members and Departments engaged in the Program Approval/ Program Review Process, to ensure sufficient consultation and transparency occur earlier in the process and with more visible and publicly shared checkpoints along the way. We will also be looking more closely at the governance structure of EdCo—in particular, the lack of proportionate faculty representation on the Standing Policy Committee and the need for best practices around the policy revision process.

    Over the past several months, the involvement of our members has been critical to our efforts. The FSA expresses a heartfelt thank you to all who participated and contributed to this process, including members, Departments, Tech Reps, the FSA Policy 5401 working group, the FSA members sitting on EdCo, and those who came to observe at the recent BoG and EdCo meetings.



    * Now that EdCo has officially endorsed the policy, recommending it for approval at BOG, its ultimate adoption seems inevitable. Yet, our advocacy will continue. The next open meeting of the BCIT Board of Governors will be held from 1:00- 1:30 next Wednesday, April 3 online. A Zoom link to attend is noted at the top of the agenda (Zoom linked here). Policy 5401 is on the agenda.

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