This year marks the 50th anniversary of Ontario’s community college network, established in the late 1960s after the province’s Ministry of Education passed a bill to create an accessible post-secondary education system as an alternative to universities. To this day, publicly-funded community colleges across the province continue to provide a high standard in academic and vocational training. Read on to learn more about Ontario’s community colleges, and the advantages of choosing a college education in Canada.
Ontario Invests in Colleges for 2017
In early April, the government of Ontario announced an investment of $50 million CAD in the province’s colleges. The province’s Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development, Deb Matthews, stated that the money is aimed at enhancing student learning and modernizing classrooms and equipment. The investment is also expected to support the Northern Colleges Collaboration, an initiative to improve access to post-secondary education in Canada’s North.
“We have to really use the $50 million to commemorate 50 years of colleges,” Matthews said. “We really do believe that investing in post-secondary education is a great way to grow the economy.”
Announcements of further investments have followed, including $14 million for 2016 and 2017 to support 67 pre-apprenticeship programs across the province, offering free training and equipment to more than 1,200 students. According to the province, “programs last up to one year, and usually combine level one apprenticeship training with an 8- to 12-week work placement”.
Such action on the part of Ontario’s government demonstrates an ongoing commitment to supporting the community college system, and improving opportunities for students.
Learn more about studying in Ontario.
Colleges and Universities – is there a difference?
When prospective international students begin their search for an institution and study program, universities are often at the top of their list. Canada’s universities achieve name recognition around the world, and consistently top ranking charts for the quality of teaching and research. However, colleges should not be overlooked. These institutions are beginning to gain popularity with international students, as they expand their international outreach efforts and as their graduates move around the world to pursue a wide range of careers.
Colleges can provide a high-quality education, offering study programs that frequently combine work experience and practical training with classroom-based learning. A recent study found that 83 percent of Ontario’s college graduates in 2015 to 2016 found employment within six months of graduation. Moreover, study programs at colleges are frequently cheaper than those at universities. Class sizes and campuses may be smaller than universities, and many international students note this as a factor that helps them settle in smoothly.
College programs tend to be shorter and more specialized, whereas degrees at a university often take a broad and thorough approach to a subject over several years. Degrees are the main offering of universities, including Bachelor (undergraduate) degrees, and Master’s and PhD (post-graduate) degrees. Universities may also offer graduate certificate programs. Colleges usually offer a range of diploma and certificate programs, and may also offer Bachelor degrees – either wholly undertaken at the college, or in collaboration with a partner university.
For example, a student may choose to pursue a Bachelor degree in Engineering at a university, with a goal of becoming a Civil Engineer. Such a degree would usually take at least four years, and would involve many courses on a wide range of disciplines within Engineering (for example, Civil Engineering, Engineering Management, Calculus, and Mechanics) as well as a range of “elective” courses, where a student may choose from courses offered in other departments of the university (for example, Political Science or Modern Languages).
In contrast, a student may choose to pursue an Ontario College Advanced Diploma in Civil Engineering Technology. Such a course may be three years in length, and may involve a co-op work opportunities of up to a year. Furthermore, work experience can be paid. Students can choose form courses focused towards specific aspects of Civil Engineering, such as Quantity Surveying, Construction Site Management, and GIS Technology.
Many colleges have transfer agreements with universities, so that a student may begin their education at a college and pursue further options at a university. These transfer programs may provide the best of both world to international students – offering a cost-effective and small-scale introduction into a new culture and education system, while at the same time giving the option to graduate from a well-known university with a higher degree.
Learn more about transfer programs in Canada.
The Competitive Edge
It is important to note that the credentials issued by universities and colleges may differ in level. For example, a Bachelor degree may be perceived as more prestigious than a college diploma. However, as the number of talented, educated graduates in Canada rises, it is widely observed that university and college graduates face stiff competition in the job search. One aspect that makes candidates stand out to employers is work experience, and students in college programs are in a prime position to access such opportunities while studying.
As the number of university graduates rises, college graduates are still reporting high levels of success in finding employment. College programs may focus more closely on career and workplace preparation than universities, which are known for a more theoretical approach to teaching.
International students and post-graduate workers in Canada can join the CanadaVisa Study Hub for a chance to win a $500 scholarship. Members also get access to exclusive notifications, tools and resources to help maximize their time in Canada and pursue a pathway to permanent residence.
If you want to discover your options for studying in Canada, or staying in Canada after graduation, complete the free CanadaVisa Study Pathway Assessment Form today.
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