Collaboration rules at B.C.'s postsecondary schools

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Ever since publication of the MacDonald Report on Higher Education in 1963—which led to the creation of Simon Fraser University and the community-college network—B.C. has been a national leader in enabling students to move between postsecondary institutions.

The B.C. Council on Admissions and Transfer oversees the rules, which even permit credits from eligible private colleges and institutes to be applied to the public system. And this month, the BCCAT published the results of a survey of more than 1,600 students who’ve moved between public postsecondary institutions. It revealed that only 20 percent were unhappy with their experience in transferring credits.

Three-quarters were satisfied with their original school, and 88 percent expressed satisfaction with their new institution.

“Most students switched institutions not due to dissatisfaction, but because they wanted to pursue a specific program that they could not pursue at the original institution,” the survey reported.

Bradley O’Hara, Langara College vice president in charge of academic affairs, told the Georgia Straight by phone that there’s a significant university-transfer component to his institution. “There’s a strong history and appreciation that starting at Langara College is a good way to ultimately completing a four-year university degree,” he said.

Recently, Langara announced a partnership with the Prince George–based University of Northern British Columbia to offer a master’s degree in business administration at both institutions. According to O’Hara, UNBC’s market research indicated that there is demand for this in the Lower Mainland.

“They’ll offer their MBA program on our campus with their faculty,” he explained. “It may very well happen that they might hire some Langara faculty to teach a course here and there.”

In addition, Langara has joined forces with Capilano University, Douglas College, and Vancouver Community College to offer a nine-month bachelor’s degree in performing arts to eligible fourth-year students. Capilano, a regional university, is the first host, and from there the program is expected to rotate through the other institutions, according to O’Hara.

“I think if you were to chat with any of my counterparts around the Lower Mainland, you’ll find that there is all sorts of collaboration that’s taking place among institutions,” he said. “It’s just part of the way we do business today.”

Casting director Stuart Aikins (Best in Show, Twilight Saga, and Unforgiven) is the “special appointee” to the bachelor of performing arts program, which offers 33 credits. Artists with two years of postsecondary education may be eligible for admission, depending on the amount of industry experience they have.

As part of the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival, the program’s first graduating class will present Qualia, billed as “a private experience in a public place”, from next Thursday (January 31) to February 2 at Progress Lab 1422 (1422 William Street).

These aren’t the only partnerships between postsecondary institutions. Last year, the Great Northern Way Campus—jointly owned by Simon Fraser University, UBC, Emily Carr University of Art and Design, and the B.C. Institute of Technology—opened a second building at its Centre for Digital Media.

Meanwhile, Premier Christy Clark announced on January 23 that the B.C. government will provide up to $113 million toward the expected $134-million cost of relocating Emily Carr University from Granville Island to the Great Northern Way Campus, on False Creek Flats between Main Street and Clark Drive.

There are even international collaborations. Victoria’s Royal Roads University has a partnership with Jinhua Polytechnic in China, in which students in that country can obtain an RRU diploma over two years. If they master English, they can advance their RRU education. “They’re able to transfer to our third and fourth year here to get a degree,” Brian White, director of the RRU school of tourism and hospitality management, told the Straight by phone. “We’ve got 160 students over there right now.”

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