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Community College in Canada

They're on the cutting edge of technology - and other things you didn't know about Canada's Community Colleges.
BY Braingain Staff Writer |   29-11-2013
Denise Amyot, ACCC President & CEO
The Association of Canadian Community Colleges (ACCC) is the organization behind the 130 publicly funded colleges, institutes and polytechnics across Canada. Braingainmag.com met up with ACCC President and CEO Denise Amyot in New Delhi, and learned a few useful things about the Canadian Community College scene.

Prior to joining the ACCC, Amyot was President and CEO of the Canada Science and Technology Museums Corporation. In addition to her present role as CEO of the ACCC, she is also Chair of the Advisory Committee of the Institute of Science, Society and Policy (ISSP). Amyot holds an MA in Education and three BA degrees in Biology, in Arts, and in Education.

BGM: Students are looking for job opportunities after their studies or training, what can Canada offer them?

Amyot: As you know Canada is a multicultural country and not only are we a country of immigrants, but we also welcome many international students every year. In fact 12 thousand students are coming every year just from India.

What students get is to study in a very peaceful, calm, not busy environment. It’s an environment that also has a large number of programs from neo-natal care to elder care. It’s a place also where it’s all about applied educational learning. And you learn all about literally what it is to be in the job. We have co-ops programs, we have internship programs, and one of the best things about the programs we have in Canada is that, for example, if you have studied in Canada for two years, you can have a work permit for two years, and we can do that for up to three years if you have studied [in Canada] for two years. So that’s a very good advantage because it allows you to have Canadian work experience, and we know that sometimes students would like also to emigrate to Canada so that’s also an advantage or a benefit.

The other thing that is very interesting with Canadian colleges, institutes, and polytechnics that is not well known, is that Canada’s colleges have programs that are either a diploma of one year, two years, three years, or graduate degrees or even post-graduate degrees. So you could have, for example a student from India who already has a university degree, they could come to Canada for one year, get a post-graduate degree, and then work one year - so that’s very advantageous.

And students should not worry about the food because we also have Indian food!

BGM: What do you envision for the future of education in Canada?

Amyot: The future of education is a very interesting question. Things are moving at a very fast pace right now. I can use my imagination and tell you that I already know students will be working in jobs that we don’t know about because they have not been created. And they will probably be working with technology that has not been invented yet.

I’m sure that in education it won’t be structured so that you have to learn everything in one place – it will be anywhere, any pace, any subject - and the beauty of technology and education is that is more accessible, affordable, and allows the teachers not to be the teachers that know everything anymore. The teachers are there to be the catalysts, to engage students. It is no more about the knowledge I believe, it is about problem solving, engaging students, and ensuring the education is relevant – relevant for today, but also for tomorrow.

BGM: How do you think Canadian Colleges are equipped to handle these changes?

Amyot: Canadian colleges are very adaptable – this is part of their DNA, because they are close to the community, close to industry. I’ll give you an example; many colleges right now have as a vision or as an objective to have 50% of their courses offered online in the next two or three years. That means that the students can work at their own pace and they can still work while they are studying. Because colleges are working with the industry it allows them to receive equipment from the industry that is leading edge, and constantly on the forefront. When I visit colleges I’m always impressed, amazed because that’s where I see the newest technology that is not yet in the store because colleges in Canada also do applied research – not only faculty, but students also do applied research, so often you see technology that is not yet on the market.

BGM: Where is the ACCC at regarding discussions for Skills Training Cooperation in India?

Amyot: We are in discussions right now with the Government of India. We will also be meeting some state officials and officials from colleges to look at how we can participate in the transformation of colleges in India. The government of India has indicated this as a priority, and we have a lot of experience and expertise in education for employment. We are present in many parts of the world and we have a very good credibility and also a good track record with respect to that. So we would like to offer this to India and look at some exchange programs for students, professors, joint curriculum development, and so on.
 

Denise Amyot of ACCC Talks About Canadian Education

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