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President explains applied degrees in letter

The following Letter to the Editor appeared in the Charlottetown Guardian on Monday, January 26, 2004

Dear Editor,

Over the last week or so, many of your readers became aware that Holland College is seeking approval to begin offering Applied Degrees. This progressive and necessary move will bring with it great opportunities for College students, industry, and the Island community. As with any new initiative in education, there are often questions that need to be addressed.

Applied Degrees are a relatively new post-secondary credential. They are issued by community colleges and technical institutes and focus on advanced study and career preparation beyond the Certificate or Diploma level, in specific occupational fields.

Applied Degrees originated in Europe, and are most notably offered in the UK, Germany and the US. In Canada, Applied Degrees were introduced in Alberta in 1994, followed by British Columbia and most recently Ontario.

Students and employers in specific fields have become increasingly interested in Applied Degrees due to changes in technology and the requirement by industry for a more highly skilled and innovative workforce. As a result, more community colleges in Canada are pursuing Applied Degrees as another training and education option for students. Over 40% of the College's current enrollment is from off-Island. To contribute to the sustainability and growth of our programs, Holland College must continue to attract students from off-Island. Applied Degrees will serve as a 'value added' option to those students who want them.

What is an Applied Degree? Applied Degrees prepare students for specific occupational fields. They are based on demonstrated industry demand; they emphasize and focus on applied learning with well-defined competencies; they require students to participate in a field placement; and they are subject to stringent monitoring and review by an external quality process. An Applied Degree is very different from, and is not to be confused with, a university degree.

In Prince Edward Island, students, industry, College faculty and the Island community will benefit from Applied Degrees. College students will benefit from enhanced employment and career advancement opportunities; the chance to develop applied research skills; and an opportunity to apply their skills and knowledge during a field placement. Industry, the College's primary partner in all program development, will benefit from a more highly skilled workforce enabling their business to take on many new initiatives.

With the introduction of Applied Degrees, College faculty will be able to pursue their own professional development in their area of expertise through enhanced industry experience, applied research opportunities and through the attainment of increased academic and occupational qualifications in their own occupational field.

As a community, we will be able to more fully optimize Government investment in our technology and state-of-the-art facilities, in the recruitment of new business, and through enhanced research and development across the Island.

The introduction of Applied Degrees will have no effect on Holland College's Diploma, Certificate or University transfer programs. In fact, our articulation agreements with universities all across Canada continue to grow. Our Diploma and Certificate programs for which the College has received such high recognition, will continue to be our primary focus and maintaining and strengthening the quality of these programs is essential. The approval of an Applied Degree program is only considered in areas where the labour market requires more advanced and practical career training than is currently available, and where industry and educators have clearly established this need. Examples of Applied Degrees currently being offered at community colleges include Applied Conservation Enforcement Technology, Applied Eco-Tourism/Outdoor Leadership, and Applied Degrees in Manufacturing Technology and Information Sciences.

It is difficult to ascertain the specific tuition fees for Applied Degree programs before knowing the occupational field of study. However, we believe that fees will be in keeping with tuition fees established for new programs offered at the College.

Holland College has long been recognized across the country and around the world as a leader in skills-based training. With this new initiative, Holland College will be the first community college in Atlantic Canada to offer Applied Degrees. We believe that this development is a necessary and essential one for our students and the future economic development of Prince Edward Island. It is indeed, another exciting milestone in our growth and evolution as a leading community college in the Atlantic region.

Sincerely,

Alex MacAulay
President
Holland College


For more information about this release, please contact:
Sara Underwood, Media and Communications Officer
Tel: 902-566-9695
Date: Monday, January 26, 2004