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Business Leads Growth at UTM

August 24, 2013
School News

Growing public interest in professional and personal development combined with more effective recruitment efforts have led to surging enrolment at the School of Continuing Studies at U of T Mississauga.

Marilynn Booth, Dean of the School of Continuing Studies, standing with Professor Deep Saini, Vice President, University of Toronto and Principal, University of Toronto Mississauga.

During the 2013-14 academic year, continuing education courses and programs will serve 1,976 students—more than double the 805 students enrolled in 2008-09. Total registrations have increased every year over the last five years, with growth occurring consecutively for almost each academic term. The program area with the most increases is Business & Professional Studies, which had more than half of all enrolments for spring/summer 2013.  It was followed by the Academic Culture and English, ACE@UTM, program (a specialized English language program offered in collaboration with the Office of the Registrar), and Creative Writing and Language Training.

Much of this swell in enrolment has been due to rising demand among professionals for career-building business training options, particularly those leading to professional accreditation. Many of these students are internationally educated newcomers in the western GTA and surrounding communities who want to build on their existing degrees with condensed but highly relevant Canadian education.

“Many immigrant professionals are highly educated and don’t need another degree, but some Canadian credentials to overlay on their existing education. It helps to validate their whole educational career in the eyes of Canadian employers,” says Phil Schalm, associate director of Tri-campus Expansion and International Professionals Initiatives for the School of Continuing Studies.

The school’s business offerings include dozens of courses and certificate programs, plus seven professional development programs focused on specific business skills. Among the most popular are those focusing on roles or fields such as risk assessment, process management, sustainable development and project management. Thanks to the school’s partnerships with 24 professional associations, many of these courses are accredited or recognized by organizations such as the Canada Green Building Council, the Project Management Institute and the Canadian Securities Institute.

Also enjoying significant momentum is Academic Culture and English, or ACE@UTM, a program for newly admitted undergraduate students who are academically strong enough to study at UTM, but don’t meet the English language requirement. Geared to international students who have studied for at least one year in a Canadian high school, the program provides Academic English Level 60 language instruction so that students have the language skills to complete written assignments and tests, expand their vocabulary and participate in class discussions. Led by School of Continuing Studies instructors, the program can be completed full time in eight weeks, or part time on Saturdays, depending on the needs of the student, with the latter option including the opportunity to simultaneously complete 3.0 course credits at UTM.

“The idea behind ACE@UTM is to provide a smooth transition for these students with a little more language studies to help them meet the requirements to come here,” says Diane Crocker, U of T Mississauga’s Registrar & Director of Enrolment Management. ACE has grown from 54 students in its first intake in fall 2011 to a projected 400 students this academic year.

Also contributing to the burgeoning enrolment in continuing education has been the school’s more strategic marketing and recruitment efforts, which have included promoting its offerings in UTM’s communications to new graduates, in publications targeted to immigrants, and through social media.

Schalm adds that continuing education’s rise at UTM has also been influenced by the high calibre of instruction that unfolds in the classroom.

“Our instructors are leaders in their field, and they’re keen to work with learners to create a sense of excitement in the classroom about the content,” he says. “That is at the heart of our success.”

This article originally appeared on the University of Toronto Mississauga website.  By Sharon Aschaiek

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