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UTSC management co-op: education that works

UTSC’s Management Co-op Program earned top marks and its first six-year accreditation (2013-2019) from the Canadian Association for Co-operative Education. (Photo by Ken Jones)

UTSC’s Management Co-op Program for Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) students has earned top marks and its first six-year accreditation (2013-2019) from the Canadian Association for Co-operative Education (CAFCE).

“We always knew our co-op team was providing great work-term experiences for our students. But this external validation from a national body is important and was a rigorous process,” says David Zweig, Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Management.

CAFCE reviewers—from the University of British Columbia and McMaster and Sir Wilfrid Laurier Universities—were particularly impressed that UTSC awards an academic credit for work terms. The review also noted how extensively students are prepared for the job search; the requirements for students’ work reports; and innovative outreach activities that include a networking breakfast, UTSC’s Mentorship in Co-op (MiC) program that draws on peer-student and alumni support, and co-op student awards.

UTSC is the co-op hub at the University of Toronto, across arts, science and management disciplines. The Management Co-op Program comprises three four-month, full-time paid work terms, alternating with academic study terms. In 2013, 543 students were placed in highly competitive work terms across the foundational areas of the BBA, such as Accounting, Finance, Marketing, Economics and Human Resources, with such employers as CIBC, Deloitte, Microsoft, IBM, Kraft, KPMG and Environment Canada.

“Though we follow all the CAFCE guidelines,” says Co-op Management Director Christine Arsenault, “it made sense for us to seek formal accreditation now, to have this stamp on our quality programming.” Ontario’s policy of offering up to $3,000 credit per student to co-op employers is increasingly tied to an accreditation standard, she says. Internationally, the U.S. Department of Education, Foreign Schools Division, for one, has also told Arsenault that it first looks at program accreditation through an external body like CAFCE in considering student aid for U.S. applicants.

Work terms in Management at UTSC are among the best paid in the co-op field, says Arsenault. “When you pay students, they are obligated to add value.”

Students are also expected to engage actively in the work-term search with their co-op coordinators and to make full use of the resources available to them. The Management Co-op Program also takes advantage of UTSC’s trimester system, enabling students to complete both a total 12 months of work experience and their academic study within the four-year honours degree, consolidating relevant learning and building a range of business skills and contacts.

The Management Co-op Program will use the CAFCE accreditation in outreach strategies with current co-op stakeholders, UTSC alumni, international consulates, multinationals, industry associations and chambers of commerce to promote the value of the program to students and employers, domestic and international.  

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