March 2013 issue

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Pathways in Canada

Giving overseas students the language skills and/or qualifications they need for undergraduate study, university pathway programmes in Canada have adapted in recent years to better meet students’ needs. Claire Twyman investigates.

Globally, a rising number of students want to gain university qualifications in Canada – a country with a top-ranking education system – but many students lack the language skills and/or academic background. Hence the country’s university pathway programmes are rapidly gaining in popularity, according to various universities and colleges.

“Interest in pathway programmes has definitely increased over the past few years,” affirms Bruce Condie at Vancouver Island University (VIU) in Nanaimo, BC, “as [these] programmes offer entry points to international education for people who would not have access with the traditional methods of entry.” In order to cater for the divergent backgrounds and needs of overseas students, VIU has developed its programme provision in recent years, with courses covering communication skills (seven or 14 weeks) and academic preparation skills (14 weeks). The university even has a high school on campus, Condie says, “which offers students an opportunity to get a Canadian high school diploma and be offered guaranteed entry into our university programmes”.

While Condie estimates that roughly 80 per cent of pathway students stay at the university for further academic study, all students at the University of Victoria (UIV), BC remain at the institution after the pathway course, that is specifically designed for UIV, ends. The university recently introduced a University Pathway Program for International Students, of 12 months in duration. It is a full-time ESL course combined with economics, pre-business, science or engineering tuition, and counts as a full year of credit towards the students’ undergraduate degrees. “This allows students to finish their degrees in less time and [spend] less money,” explains Ramona Hamilton Cook at the English language centre at the university, adding that the course has gained in popularity with Chinese, Eastern European, Turkish and Korean markets. Highlighting that students need support beyond the classroom, she relates that “UIV has set up the International Learning Commons”, where students can get assistance with homework, work permits and other issues. To apply, students need an official transcript and an Ielts score of 5.5 or equivalent, Cook says.

Canadian colleges provide worthwhile pathway options too, as Adrian Lipsett at Alexander College in Burnaby and Vancouver, BC, reveals. The institution first launched pathway programmes when it opened five years ago, as “it became apparent that a smaller institution would be well-positioned to help students bridge the cultural, linguistic and educational divides many of them face when first arriving in Canada”. As well as an English for academic purposes programme, the institution offers a university transfer programme allowing students to study a number of subjects, including economics, history and Asian studies.” Being members of British Colombia’s transfer programme (BCCAT), we are able to offer a wide selection of first and second year courses that transfer to all post-secondary institutions within the province,” Lipsett adds. “The duration of the university transfer programme is left up to the students; some choose to take only a few courses with us, while others will take a full two years – usually to obtain an Associate of Arts degree in British Colombia.”

Meanwhile, David Oancia at Niagara College in Niagara-on-the-lake, ON, highlights, “By coming to Niagara College, students are not only able to save money –college studies are cheaper than university in Canada – but also are able to successfully manage the rigours of North American academic life.” Some of the college’s pathway programmes, which vary in duration, include the English for Academic Preparation programme, which allows students to enrol without an official Ielts or Toefl iBT score, and the Academic English for College and University Studies (Aecus) course, which combines ESL preparation with elective academic tuition.

For students who exceed 750 in the Toeic placement test, the Aecus programme is not only seeing college students enrol, “but also students who are interested in a gap semester of studies”, notes Oancia. And with a growing number of students having high ESL proficiency at a young age, “many students are looking towards Aecus as it provides them with the [opportunity] to learn with native Canadians in an academic setting”, he adds.
A number of contributors cite the use of agents for recruitment purposes, including Condie from VIU who comments, “We consider new agents if they are giving us access to a part of the world that we do not already have. One of the increasingly important marketing avenues is the use of social media.”

A snapshot of pathway programmes offered in Canada

(Due to the complexity of the data, this article is only displayed in the digital issue of Study Travel Magazine)

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AHLI - American Home Life International  
Generation Estates  
Homestay Technologies Ltd  
Sara's New York Homestay LLC  
English UK  
Feltom Malta
Languages Canada / Langues Canada 
Quality English  

Ability English  
Academia International College 
Access Macquarie Limited  
Australian Institute of Professional Education  
Cairns Language Centre / Eu
rocentres Cairns  
ILSC Australia  
Impact English College  
English Language & Foundation Studies Centre  
UNSW Global Pay Limited (University of New South Wales)  
Algoma University  
Bow Valley College  
Camosun College  
Centennial College of Applied Arts and Technology  
COMOX valley - School District 71  
East Coast School of Languages (ECSL)  
University of Quebec at Trois-Rivieres  
Ecole Quebec Monde  
Hansa Language Centre of Toronto  
Humber Institute of Technology and Advanced  
ILSC - International Language Schools of Canada  
Languages Canada / Langues Canada  
Niagara College  
Ottawa International Student Programmes (OISP)  
St Giles Vancouver  
Anglia Ruskin University  
Bright World Guardianships  
Camp Beaumont  
International House World Organisation  
Kaplan International Colleges  
Prime Education  
London Language Centre  
London School of Business & Finance  
School of Oriental and African Studies  
St Giles International  
Trent College  
TUS Advertising  
Twin Group  
University of East Anglia  
Cambridge Esol  
TOEFL Educational Testing Service
Accent Francais  
Alliance Francaise Marseille-Provence  
Centre Mediterraneen d'Etudes Francaises  
Ecole Suisse Internationale  
French in Normandy  
Groupement FLE  
ILCF Institut Catholique de Paris  
Langue Onze Toulouse  
LSF Montpellier  
Lyon Bleu International  
Paris Langues / Club CEI des 4 Vents  
Université de Perpignan  
F+U Academy of Languages  
ESL Ecole Suisse de Langues  
English For Asia  
Guard. Me  
Ingle International  
Centre of English Studies  
IH Cork  
Travelling Languages - Think Ahead LTD  
A Door To Italy  

Feltom Malta
inlingua Malta  
City Education Language School  
EC Cape Town  
EF International Language Centers  
English Language School Cape Town  
Eurocentres International  
Good Hope Studies  
International House Cape Town  
inlingua Language Training Centre Cape Town  
Interlink School of Languages  
Jeffrey's Bay Language School  
Kurus English CC  
LAL Cape Town  
Language Teaching Centre  
EF International Language Centers  
Eurocentres International  
Malta Tourism Authority  
International Mediterranen Academy  
AHLI - American Home Life International  
Brown University  
California State University San Marcos  
ELS Language Centers  
FLS International  
Forest Ridge School of the Sacred Heart  
Glenholme School  
Global Language Institute  
Hun School of Princeton  
Lawrence Academy  
Montverde Academy  
Saint John's University  
University of California San Diego  
Zoni Lan
guage Centers

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