Canada’s two-year colleges, which stress job training, don’t suffer from the inferiority complex that plagues U.S. community colleges, writes the Hechinger Report. Increasingly, young Canadians are choosing community colleges over universities or capping a bachelor’s degree with a vocational course at a two-year college.
Canada is second in the world, after South Korea, in young adults with college degrees. Half of college-educated Canadians went to community colleges.
While U.S. community colleges enroll many poorly prepared students, Canada’s K-12 graduates typically are prepared for college. Graduation rates are high.
The bottom line, said Scott McAlpine, president of Douglas College in the Vancouver suburb of New Westminster: Community colleges in Canada “are not an inferior good.”
The rate at which students in Canada complete credentials at colleges, as opposed to at universities, is more than double that of most other OECD countries, including the United States. And their market share is growing—it’s now 61 percent in Ontario, for instance, up from 57 percent in 2005—while university market share in that province has fallen from 43 percent to 39 percent, according to the Ontario College Application Service.
“The collective wisdom is, if you want to get a job, going to a college will mean nine times out of 10 you’ll be employed in your area of interest six months after graduation,” said James Knight, president and CEO of the Association of Canadian Community Colleges.
Universities have protected their turf by refusing to accept community college credits for transfer into graduate and professional programs, notes the Hechinger Report. Alberta and British Columbia now require universities to accept college credits. In other provinces, community colleges have started adding their own four-year degree programs.