Officials from North Island College and Pacific Coast University for Workplace Health Sciences on Tuesday signed a memorandum of agreement to increase collaboration between the two schools.
PCU-WHS is a chartered degree-granting university specializing in disability management, and is on track to begin classroom instruction in September 2013, subject to provincial approval. The MOA would allow PCU-WHS students to take prerequisite courses, known as “breadth requirements,” at NIC, and to apply existing NIC credits towards their degree program, according to NIC president Jan Lindsay.
“They will be taking a lot of courses that are directly related to disability management, but they might also need a psychology, or an anthropology or a philosophy or other courses that would round out their education. And that’s what we offer,” Lindsay said.
“The other thing we are looking at is how we can share our resources, particularly in the area of distance learning.”
“It’s a great opportunity,” PCU-WHS president Wolfgang Zimmermann said.
“Students could complete a two-year program at NIC, at any of their campuses, then come to PCU-WHS to complete another two years for their Bachelor of Science in Workplace Health Sciences, with a specialty in Disability Management.”
Zimmermann said the majority of PCU-WHS courses would be available online, but students would spent at least part of their studies at the Port Alberni campus.
“We are following the Royal Roads University model of distributive learning, where you will be expected to complete some of your courses on site, and the rest would be available online,” he said.
“This is an international market today. The Internet has allowed students to seek out educational opportunities anywhere in the world.”
Under the MOA, the two institutions will also explore the possibilities of an exchange of expertise at the faculty level.
That could be accomplished through guest lectures, seminars and academic events, but at some point it could make sense to share instructors, if a suitable agreement can be worked out. Lindsay said the goal is to provide students with more choices in designing their education.
“We have already started to partner with other organizations to do that,” Lindsay said.
“For example, we recently signed off on a dual-admission agreement with Vancouver Island University. So this is another opportunity to add to what we can do for our students.”
NIC recently signed a $2.7 million program development agreement with the Vancouver Island Health Authority to expand the range of health-related programs being offered.
NIC currently offers a number of two-year programs leading towards a nursing degree.
The PCU-WHS agreement provides a new career track, Lindsay said.
“They may say, ‘I don’t really want to become a nurse, but I’m really interested in disability management, so I can take my two-year diploma and move on to this type of degree,’” she said.
The PCU-WHS degree program is currently under review by the provincial Degree Quality Assessment Board (DQAB).