Teacher’s college lengthened

Ontario government to cut enrolment, extend program to two years in 2015

Teacher’s college programs will be extended to two years in 2015 .
Teacher’s college programs will be extended to two years in 2015 .

Earlier this month, the Ontario government announced sweeping changes to bachelor of education programs, but the University is in limbo as to how it will be affected.

On June 5, the Ministry of Education announced that teacher’s education programs will be extended to two years, while enrolment will be decreased by 50 per cent.

Teacher’s colleges across the province will collectively graduate 4,500 students each year instead of 9,000.

The Ministry also announced its plans to cut funding for teacher education programs by 20 per cent.

Despite this, the changes will not affect students currently in teaching degree programs, Gyula Kovacs, senior media relations and issues coordinator at the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, told the Journal in an email.

“This will allow students currently enrolled in the concurrent programs, or who enroll prior to 2015, to graduate with the existing two-semester program,” Kovacs said.

According to the Ministry, the changes are designed to address the oversupply of teacher graduates

in Ontario.

Kovacs added that although universities have been graduating 9,000 students annually, there is only an average of 6,000 teaching positions open each year. “The demand for teachers is currently decreasing as a result of declining pupil enrolment and lower retirement numbers,” he said.

Teacher’s colleges receive high per-student funding in comparison to other programs, the Kovacs added, so cutting funding will bring the teaching education in line with these programs.

The provincial government has been planning to double the length of the program since August 2011, they said.

According to Kovacs, the Ministry shared a detailed list of the proposed program elements with universities in the spring of 2012.

He also said the Ministry is currently developing revised expectations in collaboration with the Ontario College of Teachers.

Steve Elliott, the dean of the Faculty of Education, said funding cuts will complicate the transition process.

“The announced reduction in funding will challenge our already tight budget,” Elliott said.

However, he said Queen’s hasn’t yet been contacted about funding cuts.

According to Elliott, he wasn’t informed about the program details or the effects on concurrent education students. “We don’t know if it will affect students currently in the [concurrent education] stream,” he said.“ That’s something we’re waiting on.”

The University is waiting for the Ministry to send the program details, he said.

The faculty will be consulting with the Ministry of Education throughout the summer.

He said the transition to the new program will be smooth otherwise.

“The yearly tuition won’t change,” he said. “But students will pay twice the tuition since the program will be two years instead of one.”

The faculty budget and staff will not change either, he said, since the same number of students will be paying tuition each year.

Natalie Tsui, ConEd ’13, said she feels positive about the changes. She’s entering the teaching degree segment of her program this September.

“I think it’s fantastic,” she said.

Tsui said a two-year program will give students twice the number of placements hours. Placements allow teacher candidates to shadow experienced teachers and teach in a real classroom environment.

“I think students will be able to build a stronger relationship with the faculty,” she said.

Tsui said that the oversupply of teachers is a serious problem in Ontario.

She said she’s been advised by faculty staff to seek alternative routes, such as teaching internationally or in private schools, to avoid the Ontario job market.

“I can list 10 people I know [in education programs] off the top of my head who are going abroad to find work,” Tsui said.

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