Education: Life Long Learning

By Donna Kay Kakonge

This article was published in September 2005. Some information may be outdated.

The name is only two years old: the G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education, but the continuing education program at Ryerson University has existed since the early 1980s. Thousands of students have passed through its doors.

Phil Schalm, Program Director of Community Services for The Chang School, has been with Ryerson since 1989 and has years of experience with other universities.
“What is special about how we are structured here is that continuing education is tightly linked with the faculties,” says Schalm. “The Chang School is Canada’s top provider of university-based adult education.”

There are many new initiatives at The Chang School, says Schalm.

“Part of what we’re trying to do is create an environment where students can learn about what the expectations are – to create a portal (doorway),” says Schalm. “We provide access on the web or in person and provide an array of support services, ranging from ESL to prior learning assessment. Newcomers learn ways to fill in gaps from their previous schooling and learn more here. We hook them up with mentors and give them some workplace experience.”

For example, if someone wants to learn marketing, they can get into the certificate program to receive specialized knowledge and later carry the credits into a degree.
“It’s designed to give someone a degree in a specific area on a part-time basis,” says Schalm, who is enthusiastic about the plan.

The Chang School offers courses over the Internet all over the world. In nursing and in non-profit sector studies, for instance, there are courses which combine Internet and face-to-face studies.

“You might come together for two or three days and do the rest of the studies on your own over the Internet,” says Schalm. “This makes it easier to fit learning into your life.”
In terms of making it more financially accessible, about seven or eight years ago, OSAP fully funded the part-time program. But to be eligible, you need to be taking five courses, which is a full-time course load.

“We understand that no part-time student can take a full-time load and still be working,” says Schalm. “OSAP has become almost inaccessible. We’re really aggressively building a bursary program.”

Thousands of dollars of support funding is being made available, to help with tuition and books.

“So many of the students that I’ve talked to have to hold down two or even three full-time jobs. On top of that they need to get into their professions – and how can they do all that? We need to have some funding support to help them.”

Check with the school, at their web site www.ryerson.ca/ce/newcomer or phone 416-979-5035 for more information on funding, courses and programs that may be right for you.

Ryerson has 1,200 courses and many of them lead to degrees. Whether it’s magazine publishing, occupational health & public safety, nursing or radio and television arts or many more – they can all lead to degrees or certificates.

Of the 40,000 students at Ryerson, over half have been in Canada less than five years. Many already have degrees, but need courses like The Chang School offers, including mentoring and work placements.

Staff and faculty at The Chang School understand what it means to be a Newcomer. They will treat you with respect, help you make decisions and support your desire to succeed in a new country.

CNM