A new admissions policy was placed into effect by the University of Alberta recently. The new policy will eliminate a quota system which put a cap on the number of indigenous students allowed into the university per year. The old policy was in effect for more than three decades, so many are wondering how this shift in policy will affect the medical program overall.
The Old Policy
The thirty-year-old policy that the new one will replace kept five spots specifically for indigenous students who met program requirements. The reason it was put into place was a vast under-representation of said indigenous peoples in secondary schooling. This lack of academic representation was seen most strongly among medical students.
The premise of this old policy was a good one. It ensured a place for indigenous peoples in the medical community and allowed for increased diversity during a period in which there was not much.
Why Change the Policy?
The old indigenous student policy has slowly become irrelevant. As post-secondary enrollment of indigenous peoples has risen steadily over the last thirty years, the policy has become less a blessing and more a burden.
It needed changing for a few years now, but it takes consideration (and research) to ensure such a momentous change in policy is worth it. The University of Alberta did finally decide that it was and instituted a new policy to replace the old one.
The New Policy
The new policy will allow all indigenous students into the medical school, so long as they meet the standard eligibility requirements. The standard requirements for all medical students include applicable academic eligibility, a secondary medicine application, and online assessment.
Indigenous students must undergo a second portion of eligibility, however, according to tradition. Once passing standard requirements, they then undergo an interview with tribal elders and community medicine practitioners. This group will then pass on their recommendations to the standard university board.
Some individuals have stated that there are still not enough indigenous peoples attending medical school, despite a drastic increase in the past three decades. In an effort to continue assisting an increase of indigenous medical practitioners, the University of Alberta has implemented four new scholarships to these students after dispersing their five held slots. These scholarships will cover the full cost of tuition, to ease any financial burden medical school attendance may incur.
The School’s Actual Word on Their Policy Alterations
Due to a small amount of confusion as to how the policy would actually change the medical program (including admissions), the University of Alberta released a clarifying statement. It read as follows:
“The University of Alberta is eliminating a quota system that limited the number of Indigenous students admitted… through the Indigenous Initiatives Program Process (IHIP)… Starting in fall 2019, all Indigenous students who meet all eligibility requirements… will be offered a place in the medical school. The faculty previously held an upper limit of five Indigenous students admitted… per year through the IHIP process…”