By: Aaron L. Pope

For students wanting to change their academic goals after spending some time in college or university, it can be difficult, time consuming and sometimes an expensive proposition.

According to Algonquin College’s registrar, Kathryn Moore, a study completed in 2011 shows that 41 per cent of Ontario college students have some degree of post-secondary experience.

“A transfer of credit is clearly mainstream,” said Moore.

A discussion paper released this year by the Ministry of Training, Colleges & universities, titled “Strengthening Ontario’s centres of creativity, innovation and knowledge,” examines what so many students in this situation are probably thinking and highlights this by stating, “It is difficult to understand why students have to repeat the same courses when they transfer from one institution to another.”

One second-year broadcasting student knows all too well how difficult it can be to transfer from one post-secondary institution to another. Michelle Aseltine, 21, a television broadcasting student, transferred from the University of Ottawa two years ago and is now pulling in A’s during her second year at Algonquin College.

While in university, she says she wasn’t getting the kind of education she had hoped for and was looking for a more hands on, practical learning experience. For her, it was a good idea to move on before wasting too much time and money on a program she wasn’t enjoying, and lucky for her found a home here at Algonquin.

But despite completing two years of university, Aseltine has had to start over from the beginning by taking some of her general education and communications classes all over again.

Aseltine’s schedule, like many other full-time students, is packed tight and she ends up spending seven days a week in class or completing assignments. She’s not complaining, though she would have liked to have put some of her university credits to work by getting exempted from classes she has already taken, just at a different institution.
The Canadian Students Association along with the Ministry of Training Colleges & Universities as well as student associations from all over Ontario are working to create a standardized system of credit transfer that will make changing academic direction easier for students wishing to further their education.

“We’re trying to get ourselves up to the point where we have all the colleges and universities operating on the same standards,” said Tyler Epp, the director of advocacy for the Canadian Students Alliance. “Then your Ontario credits will be recognized all over the globe.”

“There are long standing policy roadblocks,” said Epp. “The current system has been in place for a long time and it does take time and energy and money, in a lot of cases, to change how things are done.”

The CSA has a couple of ideas for changing the system while creating very little friction among colleges and universities. They suggest the college and university systems better align the nomenclature of their credentials with one another to afford students more opportunity to be mobile, more competitive and to pursue education worldwide.
They also suggest exploring the gaps in transfer agreements created by counter-active institutional policies that currently exist.

And while there is no real opposition to changing the current system, there is a long history of colleges and universities not seeing eye to eye on the real worth of the credits offered, especially from colleges.

With all these institutions competing for your tuition dollars, Aseltine has only one question for those in charge of the situation, “Why is it so complicated?”