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Switching schools will be easier in Atlantic Canada

FREDERICTON (CUP) – Post-secondary institutions in the Atlantic region have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to make the process of transferring schools easier within the region, by creating more official transfer agreements between and among Atlantic schools.

Peter Halpin, executive director of the Association of Atlantic Universities (AAU), says the agreement is meant to formalize the process of transfers between community colleges and universities.

The MOU was developed so that students would not have to repeat former learning experiences.

According to the document, the agreement also provides students with “the opportunity to complete and/or further their post-secondary training in the Atlantic region to the greatest degree possible.”

Twenty-two institutions across all four Atlantic provinces have signed the agreement.

“The purpose was to, in an official and public way, make clear that the working relationship between community colleges and universities is open to collaboration and co-operation,” says Halpin.

Halpin says it is important that the public, and especially students in Atlantic Canada, understand the agreement.

“This is very much about students. It’s designed so that students have mobility within our region to transfer between the respective institutions.”

The agreement, which came into effect as of June 1, 2009, has been an ongoing process.

Halpin says it took time to set out the principles of the agreement in a collaborative fashion.

Details surrounding the actual transfers will differ from school to school.

“Every university has its own policies and qualifying standards,” Halpin explains.

He says that agreements already exist between schools like the University of Prince Edward Island and Holland College, and that the MOU will be a “recognition of programs and the flow of students back and forth.”

The MOU will honour existing longstanding agreements.

Patsy MacDonald is the college registrar for all 13 Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC) campuses. Her job is to help with the consistency of policy across the campuses, as well as to work within the different schools.

“It’s nice to have this written in an MOU. I think there’s been a lot of cooperation between universities and colleges without the agreement in place, (so) this will just aid students to transfer more seamlessly,” she says.

When asked if the MOU has had an impact on registration thus far, MacDonald responded that it’s still too early to tell, but that “there’s optimism.”

“I think what we’re looking for is looking that students don’t have to repeat learning. They can take when they’ve achieved at university and bring it to college and vice versa.”

MacDonald says that both universities and colleges in the Atlantic region are planning to work harder to make the transition from school to school easier on students.

She says this will broaden the possibilities for a thorough education in the Atlantic provinces.

“From a regional point of view, it’s in the interest of our region to ensure seamless integration between community colleges and universities,” says Halpin.

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