New Initiative Will Give Students a Head Start on University, College

A new initiative supported by the Manitoba government will ensure all students have the opportunity to access post-secondary courses while still in high school, Premier Greg Selinger announced today.

“High school should be a launch pad for students, not a finish line.  Students should be able to get a head start, explore careers without being locked in and graduate with a sense of direction and purpose,” said Premier Selinger.  “The First-Year Now initiative will give students the opportunity to start planning for higher learning in high school, take university and college courses, and earn dual credits.”

The initiative is modeled after a successful program in Seven Oaks School Division, which has been delivering dual-credit courses in partnership with the University of Winnipeg and Université de Saint-Boniface.

“Giving high school students a taste of university academics in a familiar atmosphere builds confidence, allows for a more seamless transition and leads to greater success in future studies,” said Dr. Annette Trimbee, president and vice-chancellor, University of Winnipeg.  “We have had much success working with a dozen high schools offering classes from anthropology and psychology to calculus and women’s and gender studies.  We look forward to offering even more university classes to more high school students under the Manitoba government’s expanded program.”

Dual credits are courses that count as high school credits and college or university credits.  They save students and parents time and money by giving students a head start and reducing the number of courses required to complete a post-secondary education after high school.

“Seven Oaks students are taking tuition-free post-secondary credit courses in our high schools, gaining the confidence and the skills to succeed in university.  Many have discovered talent and potential they didn’t think they possessed,” said Brian O’Leary, superintendent, Seven Oaks School Division.

Through a new partnership with Red River College, Seven Oaks is expanding its course offerings to include anatomy and physiology, introduction to Canadian business, television and radio broadcasting, and architectural drafting beginning in February 2014.

“Red River College is pleased to be partnering with the Seven Oaks School Division to offer students access and exposure to college courses that can lead to exciting careers in Manitoba,” said David Rew, interim President and CEO, Red River College.

Louis Riel School Division is also working towards offering an expanded dual credit initiative, with a planned launch date of September 2015.

“Giving students opportunities to gain exposure to college and university teaching methods and materials in high school gives them a head start on their post-secondary education, and helps students who may have not considered college or university see that they can succeed in higher learning,” said Duane Brothers, superintendent, Louis Riel School Division.  “We look forward to being able to offer this kind of advantage to students in our division.”

“For schools to successfully offer dual credits, they need a strong university or college partner,” said Premier Selinger.  “I’m encouraged to see that our post-secondary institutions are enthusiastically endorsing this important initiative.”

“The University of Manitoba is committed to supporting the most productive pathways to student success.  We know that for those students who enter university directly from high school, a smooth transition from one to the other is critical to their ultimate success,” said David Barnard, president and vice-chancellor, University of Manitoba.  “Offering students the opportunity to take university courses while in high school not only gives them a head start on their university studies, but also exposes them early on to expectations at the post-secondary level.  When these students arrive here, they will be prepared to make the most of the opportunity.  We look forward to working with the Province of Manitoba to make this program successful for students across Manitoba.”

“Brandon University (BU) has long been a provincial leader in promoting and providing high school students with access to dual credit through our courses, usually at no cost to them or their families.  At BU, it is our belief that there is great benefit to our institution and the communities we serve from providing affordable, flexible and accessible courses to any student who wishes to pursue post-secondary education while still in high school,” said Dr. Gervan Fearon, president and vice-chancellor, Brandon University.

“Assiniboine Community College (ACC) has worked with school divisions to build dual-credit opportunities into a number of our programs.  In some cases, such as Comprehensive Health Care Aide, high school students can open the door to a career by obtaining a full post-secondary credential concurrent with their high school diploma,” said Mark Frison, president and CEO, ACC.  “We look forward to working with the province and other partners to increase dual-credit opportunities for students.”

“Dual-credit opportunities are essential to the future of institutions like the University College of the North.  UCN is proud of our partnerships, particularly those that allow high school students an opportunity to explore post-secondary education while earning credit,” said Konrad Jonasson, president and vice-chancellor.  “I am so pleased to see the promise made in the throne speech around an increase in post-secondary credit for high school students being realized so quickly.”

“The participation in a dual-credit program creates a heightened interest in a specific university program and, at the same time, eliminates unfounded fears and dispels any mystery around higher learning. In addition, it shows vividly to a student how pleasant and useful it is to study in French,” said Gabor Csepregi, president, Université de Saint-Boniface.

“I am pleased to see the enormous support of all of our education partners on this very important initiative,” the premier concluded.

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