All Posts Tagged With: "Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario"
Big ideas from Switzerland, Tennessee, Israel and Australia
Canada has fallen behind or is at risk of falling behind other countries in education and training if we don’t get our act together. That was a common theme at two conferences last week in Toronto, one hosted by The Conference Board of Canada, which is developing a Centre for Skills and Post-Secondary Education, and the other by the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario, a provincial agency that does research and offers policy advice to government. Speakers from several countries offered innovative ideas worth considering. Here are four of the most intriguing.
Switzerland streams into vocations
The Swiss government encourages apprenticeships and, unlike in Canada, 40 per cent of companies take them on. Many high school students are streamed into vocations starting at age 11 or 12 and are in factories or offices getting job experience by 15 or 16. “In Canada, if you have a university degree you’re somebody [but] vocational not so much,” said Urs Obrist, an Embassy of Switzerland expert who spoke at the CBOC conference. In Switzerland, he said, people accept that, “some horses are work horses, some are show jumpers and some are race horses.” However, the system is flexible enough that “late bloomers” can change streams. He pointed out that Switzerland has a very low youth unemployment rate. In 2012, 8.4 per cent of Swiss aged 15 to 24 were unemployed, the second lowest among 33 rich countries. Canada was 12th at 14.3 per cent.
Students are staying longer for a variety of reasons
When Michael Prior came to the University of British Columbia in 2008, he expected to spend the standard four years at the school.
Now in his fifth year, he realizes his original plan was unrealistic. The 22-year-old English Literature major has funded most of his own education, so he works for pay about 20 hours a week. That requires a lighter course load.
Prior is hardly alone. In fact, graduating more than four years after starting may be the new standard. A recent study from the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario reports that less than half of Ontario university students finish in four years.
Hannah Talbot, a first year Arts student at UBC, was surprised. “I always thought that it was a four-year deal until I came to university and realized a lot of people were in their fifth or sixth year.”
Students can’t blame tuition fees for low enrolment
Clearly, 1969 was a great year to be going to university in Quebec. The province was in the process of detaching itself from its church-dominated past, priming the demand for an educated class. Prospective university students could also take heart in knowing that, because of a tuition freeze that year, they would pay $500 a year throughout their studies.
Having been in effect for 32 of the past 43 years, the tuition freeze has been as enduring as it is economical. As a result, students today are getting an even better bargain than their forebears. A Quebec resident attending university today pays $1,968 a year—or just $311 in 1969 dollars. And as the months-long student boycott of universities across the province shows, low tuition is something of a sacred cow here, like cheap electricity and beer at the dépanneur. The student movement says the provincial government’s plans to increase tuition to $3,793 will hinder access to higher education.