Monday, June 13, 2011

It's time to talk about learner pathways

In my June 6 post, I recalled Douglas College’s roots in the 1960s.

Back then, people saw post-secondary education as an answer to the challenges and opportunities created by massive demographic, social and economic changes.

Canadians needed a more egalitarian approach to post-secondary education, which would provide better access for more students to traditional universities, as well as access to training and re-training for job-ready skills at colleges.

Looking back over the past 50 years, how well has Canada’s post-secondary sector adapted in order to cope with massive social change?

The unequivocal answer is: extraordinarily well.

The US and Western Europe have also done extraordinarily well, and so have other regions around the world.

It’s a good news story.

Today in British Columbia, approximately 85% of high school grads who meet university entrance requirements do, in fact, attend a BC college or university within five years. That is awesome.

We’ve created a system based on merit, and not on financial means. I don’t want to dismiss the challenges of paying for education – barriers still exist for some. And there is still room for improvement in the number of high school graduates who meet university entrance requirements.

However, by and large, we have succeeded in creating a system that provides access to post-secondary education for those who are qualified.

Today, the question has become: Access to what?

And this brings us to the concept of learner pathways – the idea that today’s learners need more flexibility to start their post-secondary education somewhere, and go wherever they wish, by following a pathway of their choosing. Moreover, students returning to post-secondary need to be welcomed back and encouraged to explore and to follow their dreams.

In my next post, I’ll write about our Vision 2015 goal of becoming a learner pathway institution. --Scott

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