Northwest Community College is forging pathways for students to complete the first years of a university degree at the college, and then take a clear and guaranteed transfer to universities to finish the requirements.
Early last week NWCC announced an agreement with the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) for criminology students to directly transfer there to earn a degree in forensics.
It was the most recent of several such agreements made this year, building on others forged with the University of Victoria and with top-ranked Monash University in Australia.
The move guarantees that credits will smoothly transfer and simplifies the pathway from the college to further study, says Justin Kohlman, NWCC vice principal of education, student development and international.
“Now our students know they have a guaranteed program to go into… They know what the next step looks like… It’s about giving students as many clear options as possible,” he said.
He adds that options not limited to these universities, but the agreements simply lay out the options more clearly.
“Students can start here and then go anywhere – anywhere in the province, anywhere in the country, anywhere in the world,” he said, explaining that the first two years at NWCC is the same as any university in B.C.
Kohlman said that the agreements also clarify the cost-saving option for students to start their education in the less expensive college system.
“You can do your first two years at college and it’s way more cost-effective [and] you get that extra support,” he said. “Then you can go off into year three anywhere else you want.”
The college made a renewed push this year to establish these agreements after student advisors reported that a lot of students were seeking clear, continued study options. Kohlman said that goal quickly expanded to include opportunities across Canada and abroad due to student interest.
A last minute information session about the Monash agreement drew 20 students, and aroused the interest of many more whose questions were peppered at advisors in the weeks afterward.
Kohlman says he believes students are enticed by both the adventure of studying abroad and the esteem of institutions such as Monash, which is considered among the leading universities in the world and has earned numerous awards and top educational rankings.
“I think a lot of people are interested in these opportunities… interested in getting credentials that will help them stand out in the workforce in the future,” he said.
The bridge to Monash also opened a flood of other connections.
“They have such big brand name recognition, by getting them to partner with us, it demonstrates that quality [of NWCC education] world-wide for everyone to see,” Kohlman said. “Because of that agreement, we have other universities in other countries like Norway and Denmark and Switzerland doing partnerships with us as well.”
Kohlman says there is particular interest from universities that offer adventurous, outdoor experiential programs similar to NWCC. Universities in the Maritimes have also expressed interest, he said.
“Stay tuned. I expect there will be more agreements coming, domestically and internationally.”