College vs university education in Canada

Jamaica To Canada

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

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Dear Mr Brown,

At one of your seminars you encouraged me to enrol in a post-graduate certificate programme. I would like to know the reason you did not suggest a master's programme, considering I possess a first degree. Also, I would like to do a two-year programme so that I can get a longer work permit after graduation. My intention is to file for permanent residency after my studies.

— MK

Dear MK:

The perception of post-graduate certificates/diplomas is very different in Jamaica and Canada. I observe that in Jamaica, universities are seen as necessarily better than colleges. In Canada, the main difference between colleges and universities is the focus on practical knowledge and hands-on experience.

It is not that one is necessarily better or higher than the other; they are different, and each has its place.

However, some believe that college provides a smoother transition for new immigrants to settle in Canada because of the emphasis on preparing one for work rather than research or writing a thesis, which has very little to do with preparing for the workforce.

Colleges vs universities

In Canada, college programmes are designed and developed, in part, based on the support and feedback from employers and industry. There is a direct link between the needs of employers and the school curriculum and experiences.

This link between colleges and industry is essential. Employers generally wish to hire students who have relevant, career-related work experience. College programmes are focused on how knowledge and skills are applied in the workplace.

I believe that one may be over-educated and under-experienced by obtaining a master's degree in Canada with no Canadian work experience. A master's degree is something to pursue after one obtains adequate experience in Canada. I understand that the concept is different in Jamaica, which is the reason I am making the effort to explain the distinction.

Canadian College Fair

In response to your query, there are two-year, post-graduate diploma programmes with paid work experience that are available. You should also be aware that some schools offer scholarships based on grades and community service.

I will be hosting a Canadian College Fair, in association with the Jamaica Association of Guidance Counsellors in Education, for high school students on October 3 and 4, 2018 at Knutsford Court Hotel from 10:00 am – 5:00 pm The general public is also welcome. Should you be interested, you may be able to speak with a representative from some of the top schools about your interest.

Antonn Brown, BA, (Hons), LLB, MSc, RCIC, is an immigration counsel, education agent and managing director of JAMAICA2CANADA.COM — a Canadian immigration and education firm in Kingston. Send questions/comments

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