The University of Alberta will be suspending enrollment for 20 arts programs this fall.

According to a letter written by the dean for the Faculty of Arts, the programs were selected due to low enrollment.

“We chose these majors on the basis that they were the areas that had 10 or fewer majors every year for the past eight years,” Lesley Cormack told CTV News.

“Starting in September we are not going to let students register for the major in that area,” she explained adding that eliminating the programs involved a process that began with suspension of enrollment.

“I think this is a good opportunity for us to really think about what these students need for the 21st century.

“We risk becoming less valuable to students if we don’t take seriously what is useful to them and how we can help them, at the same time making sure they are introduced to things they might not have even have imagined existed.”

However, the president of the Students Union told CTV News many were shocked by the news.

“We’re frustrated in that just coming back to school we already have less class options,” Petros Kusmu explained.

“Our class sizes are going to be bigger and there are talks of fees being increased leaving students paying more for less for their education.”

Cormack said the decision was in response to budget cuts.

“It was definitely triggered by the budget and that we were going to have fewer faculty members and contract instructors to teach our programs.”

According to Cormack suspending the programs will save thousands of dollars in contract instructor costs as well as some administrative costs of running the majors.

“The faculty members that would have been teaching that course can be redeployed to teach the first and second year courses or other courses that would get more students.

“Much will depend on whether some of these programs merge with other programs or create a new program,” she added.

“This is really about streamlining and management more than it is about the actual dollar amount that we would save.”

Minister of Enterprise and Advance Education, Thomas Lukaszuk, said he thought the program review was a good idea.

“To be the best, to be the top 20 by 2020,  you have to offer the most relevant programs that student want to take and be excellent at delivering them.

“Students vote with their feet. If they no longer want to spend their tuition dollars on a certain program because they find it irrelevant, why should taxpayers be spending money on that program,” he added.

“I think it’s only prudent and fiscally responsible and the right thing to do to look at these programs.”

Cormak’s letter indicates that those affected by the cuts have until September 3 to submit a written complaint.

With files from Amanda Anderson