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August 9, 2013

Helping students combine college and university.

Ontario's colleges and student groups are urging the provincial government to help more students pursue a mix of college and university education by requiring institutions to be more transparent about recognizing students' prior credits.

The province's 24 colleges and student groups such as the College Student Alliance are calling for measures to require colleges and universities in Ontario to be more open about the completed credits they will recognize when a post-secondary student transfers to their institution. Each institution's credit-transfer policies should be publicly available and easily accessible.

“Measures requiring colleges and universities to properly recognize and be more transparent about prior learning would make education more affordable.  This would also allow students to make better informed choices about their career path,” said Fanshawe College President Dr. Howard Rundle. “We look forward to working with the government to improve the province's credit transfer system.”

College presidents representing the sector discussed the proposal in detail with Brad Duguid, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities at Queen's Park on August 7.  

Greater transparency will give college and university students looking to transfer to another institution a better understanding of how quickly they will graduate. This will help students make decisions that allow them to enter the workforce more quickly.

“More information and resources on credit transfer will help reduce the number of courses a student will have to repeat once they have transferred from one institution to another,” said Curtis Bell, President of the College Student Alliance. “This change will encourage more students to pursue a mix of both college and university in the future.”

Encouraging more students to pursue college programs as part of their post-secondary education will produce a more highly skilled workforce. This is important as Ontario works to address the skills mismatch that is hurting the economy.

The skills mismatch is the divide between the skills and credentials held by people looking for work and the qualifications sought by employers. In a recent report, the Conference Board of Canada said the skills gap is costing Ontario more than $24 billion a year in lost economic activity. The report also found the province loses about $3.7 billion a year in potential tax revenues.

Many students are already recognizing the benefits of combining college and university. Over the past five years, the number of university graduates applying to college has increased by more than 40 per cent.