Brandon University’s thriving Co-operative Education program has taken another major step forward, with a big expansion in the number of department majors where students can take advantage of work experience as part of their degree.
The new expansion, approved late last month by the BU Senate, means that almost every single student will have some opportunity for formal work experience as part of their degree.
“We are building BU into Manitoba’s top experience university,” said Dr. Steve Robinson, BU’s Vice-President (Academic & Provost). “We now offer the most comprehensive list of Arts department majors with Co-operative Education in the province. That is because experience in the workforce cements the lessons of the classroom, and helps students network for their future careers; it is learning and earning.”
Experiential learning like BU’s Co-op program also pays dividends for employers.
“The Co-op program has allowed us to connect with BU and the talented students who are looking for opportunities to gain work experience in their field,” said Tilda Fortier, Business Manager with Greenstone Building Product and proud BU Co-op employer. “We were able to hire a Computer Science student to support our Automation Department and the experience has been great.”
The new expansion means that every department in the Faculty of Science and all but two departments in the Faculty of Arts feature Co-op as an elective opportunity. Co-operative Education was launched at BU just three years ago, and although raw numbers are still small, they are growing rapidly. Over the past three years, the number of Co-op students at BU has nearly tripled.
Experiential and work-integrated learning is already built into BU’s other faculties, through nursing practica, student teaching placements, and music performance requirements.
“We do this because it works,” said Cora Dupuis, Coordinator of the BU Co-operative Education Program. “Students love it because it shows them the value of their studies right away, it lets everyone explore job opportunities, and it improves outcomes — both grades and future careers.”
Despite the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, Dupuis says that BU’s Co-op students have had enriching learning and working experiences thanks to the employers.
“I have been impressed, touched, and thankful for the support that businesses have shown to all of their employees, including our Co-op students,” she said. “The flexibility and willingness of all sizes of employers to make it work shows that students really bring something special to the table. In fact, 88 per cent of our employers ranked our co-op students’ job performance as great or excellent!”
With March declared as National Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning Month, Dupuis and Brandon University are gearing up for another major push to grow the program even more next year.
“This expansion is one of opportunity,” Dupuis said. “It shows that the campus is on board. There’s a lot of work ahead to recruit both students and potential employers — and the fun part is making the right match.”
For more information, please contact:
Coordinator of the BU Co-operative Education Program
Director, Marketing and Communications
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