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Co-op academic programmes in Canada come with benefits

Jamaica to Canada

Wednesday, May 07, 2014    

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Dear Mr Brown,

I am thinking of enrolling in a business administration co-op programme at Humber College. However, before proceeding, I would like to know the advantages of a co-op programme as opposed to a regular one in my capacity of a prospective international student.

— AKP

Dear AKP:

In Canada, a co-op programme entails work experience as an essential and integral component of the degree, diploma or certificate programme. The employment is actually certified as part of the academic programme. However, the employment may not form more than 50 per cent of the total programme of study.

It should be noted that an international student does not necessarily need to enrol in a co-op programme to be able to work. Currently, off campus work permits may be obtained after six months of studying. As of June 2014, study permits will enable international students to work off campus from the beginning of their studies.

Due to the fact that a co-op programme includes work experience that is intrinsically related to the area of study, one can claim both the academic credential as well as the practical work experience upon graduation. Moreover, the co-op work experience can lead to permanent job offers based on performance and networking. This experience will definitely prepare you for the post-graduate job search.

The benefits of co-op include:

* Applied knowledge and hands-on experience

* The opportunity to earn money to assist with the payment of tuition fees

* Identifying the type of work one is interested in based on exposure to work tasks and environment

* Improved organisation and time management skills

* Networking opportunities with employers

Industry support

The co-op programmes are designed and developed, in part, based on the support and feedback from employers and industry. There is a direct link to the needs of employers and the school curriculum and experiences. The link between Colleges and Industry is essential. Employers generally wish to hire students who have relevant career-related work experience. College programmes, such as those offered at Humber, are focussed on how knowledge and skills are applied in the workplace.

Co-op programmes vs internships

An internship is similar to a co-op programme. The main difference is that internships are usually for a one-term arrangement, whereas co-op programmes entail multiple work terms. For example, at Humber, students will alternate between terms of study and terms of work throughout the entire programme.

It is important to note that co-op programmes tend to be longer than programmes that do not have the work option. For example, Business Administration is four terms or two academic years, while Business Administration Co-Op is six terms or three academic years.

Colleges vs Universities

In Canada, the main difference between colleges and universities is the focus on practical knowledge and hands-on experience. It is not that one is necessarily better or higher than the other. They are different, and each has its place. However, some believe that college provide a smoother transition for new immigrants to settle in Canada.

Humber College is definitely a popular school. I am certain you will enjoy the experience. As the local agent of Humber, I will be hosting a seminar this week in Kingston and Montego Bay. Should you be interested, you may speak with a Humber Representative. We are having free information sessions and on-the-spot applications at the Knutsford Court Hotel on May 8 at 7:00 pm and at the Holiday Inn Sunspree Resort on May 9 at 7:00 pm.

For further information visit jamaica2canada.com.

Antonn Brown, BA, (Hons), LLB, MSc, RCIC, is an immigration counsel, education agent and managing director of JAMAICA2CANADA.COM — a Canadian immigration & education firm in Kingston. Send questions/comments to jamaica2canada@gmail.com.

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