Algonquin plans for fall term of mainly online courses, cuts some course sizes | Ottawa Citizen


Bethannie Nicol is an animal-loving kid whose first pet was an “amazing” bunny named Broxy that would hop right over when she called his name.

“If you can get a really good rabbit, they’re like your best friend,” said the Ottawa Grade 12 student, who now lives with a Beagle named Cooper and Chip the grumpy hamster.

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Nicol set her sights early on a career with animals. She worked summers at a petting farm and spent a “amazing” high school co-op term helping at a veterinary hospital.

Her dream clicked into place on March 2, when she received a letter from Algonquin College accepting her into the two-year veterinary technician program.

That ended abruptly last week, when Nicol, 18, joined thousands of other students graduating in the midst of a pandemic whose post-secondary plans have been altered.

Algonquin sent her a message saying her acceptance has been revoked. The college says it reduced the number of students allowed to start the program from 75 to 45 in order to implement physical distancing.

Each program will have its own plan for next fall. In some cases, theory might be done online first, with labs scheduled for later in the semester, said Jane Trakalo, dean of Algonquin’s Health and Community Studies, which includes programs such as nursing, massage therapy and personal support worker.

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However, her friend, who was also interviewed by this newspaper, was accepted into the program.

“I cried, I was really sad,” said Nicol. ” It’s a shame, but at the same time my friend is getting to go to the course, so I’m glad for her.”

A letter from Algonquin to Nicol said the decision to revoke her offer was “based on your application date, offer date, and confirmation date. This approach was applied fairly to all applicants and is in accordance with our policies.”

Nicol’s mom Elizabeth Nicol says she is livid, not only because her daughter’s dreams have been dashed but because she is not satisfied the decision was based on “the luck of the draw.”

“Something about this does not sit right.”

Janzen said he could not comment on a particular student. The college did not immediately provide a copy of the policy used to determine vet tech admissions.

Janzen said the admissions process is not subjective and follows “a strict set of rules.”