Categorized | Canadian Politics

College students missing entrance exams, apprenticeship hours

Posted on 07 December 2017 by admin

Five-week long job action took its toll, opposition parties demand government help

Paralegal students at Toronto’s Centennial College will earn the required hours in time to write their accreditation exams — though things are not as clear for those at other institutions.

From career entrance testing to required hands-on training, Ontario college students have been left struggling to catch up after a five-week strike by faculty that has forced semesters to be extended to make up for lost time.

Centennial “is actively working on semester recovery planning” for those in the paralegal program, said Véronique Henry, who chairs the college’s centre for legal and administrative studies. She noted that the school’s weeklong break in October meant students missed fewer classes because of the job action.

“Depending on the length of the strike, strategies for the paralegal program may include scheduling classes in the evening and/or on weekends, as well as extending the semester end dates. These strategies will ensure that paralegal students have the opportunity to meet the instructional hour requirements for this program, and can then be permitted to apply to write the law society licensing exams.”

At Queen’s Park, however, New Democrat MPP and education critic Peggy Sattler warned she’s been hearing from frantic students who are unsure about their future after the government introduced back-to-work legislation to end the strike.

“We are now learning that because of the extended semester, some students wishing to write their paralegal entrance exam with the law society won’t be finished in time for the February exam sitting — putting students behind by at least six months,” Sattler said Thursday at the legislature.

“Given the fact that the Liberal government sat on the sidelines for five weeks and did nothing to help prevent or resolve the strike, is the premier working on a solution for these students?”

Sattler also said she’s worried about students in co-op programs and those with on-the-job training requirements that won’t be met.

The College Student Alliance said it has reached out to the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development for answers.

Minister Deb Matthews — who noted the NDP delayed passage of the legislation that forced instructors back on the job — said “colleges are working very hard to make sure that students are able to successfully complete” their semester.

“We have been working with students throughout the strike and following the strike to make sure that we can be there to offer as much support as possible to get students back on track,” she also said.

The NDP has also criticized the government for its hardship fund — from monies saved by the colleges during the strike — as being inadequate to meet student needs. In a city like Toronto, the maximum $500 would not even cover rent, said Sattler.

Matthews said the student alliance is supportive of the fund — a first “in the history of post-secondary education strikes” — and the government’s efforts.

“This has been very, very difficult for students, for faculty members, for employers in the community who were looking forward to having those students working in their organizations,” Matthews said. “The strike was tough. It had a big impact. We’re doing everything we can to support students to get back into the classroom and back on track for their careers.”

During the strike by 12,000 faculty members, classes were cancelled for as many as 500,000 students starting Oct. 16, and resumed Nov. 21.

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