Articulation agreements between colleges and universities allows students to make their education mobile, starting at one and switching to another midstream to track developing career plans. While such arrangements are newer in Ontario and Nova Scotia, they’ve been happening for decades in Alberta.
McMaster University and Mohawk College, both in Hamilton, Ont., recently teamed up to offer a Bachelor of Technology Program. Alan Murray, executive director of the partnership, says it enables students to get a merged four-year Bachelor of Technology degree from McMaster and a Diploma in Technology from Mohawk, or a university degree completion for graduates of a three-year diploma.
The integrated program “meshes the best of both worlds,” giving students a broad education ranging from ethics to work placements. “Basically, the graduates are ready to hit the ground running.”
Ron Woodward heads the Alberta Council on Admissions and Transfers, the body that facilitates more than 60,000 “transfer agreements” between Alberta education institutions. It’s been operating since 1974.
“The fundamental difference in Alberta is we operate both at a course and a program level. A student starting at a college will be able to transfer some or all of those courses to another institution, be it a college or a university,” Woodward says. A student may start at a local college and decide to study at the University of Alberta. A university student might decide to focus on a trade and switch to a college.
The agreements mean students can move across the province and between institutions while bringing their education with them.
“In Alberta, almost half of the transactions do not involve a university. It’s college to college, college to technical institute,” he says.
“Increasingly, the universities are becoming sending institutes, not receiving. The landscape is changing tremendously.”
In all cases, the diploma or degree comes from the receiving institution. “It’s absolutely critical what you learn at the sending institution prepares you for success at the receiving institution,” Woodward says.
The Nova Scotia Community College has articulation agreements with post-secondary institutes across Canada and the U.S. A popular choice is the “two plus two” block transfer, where a student study at NSCC for two years and transfer to a university, earning a degree/diploma in four years while taking advantage of the college’s lower tuition fees and more work-centric approach.