March 18, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 88  

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Rising competition for teacher’s college

By Dan Perry
Gazette Staff

Over the past five years, the Ontario provincial government has increased the total number of funded placements for teacher’s colleges to 31,000 — but have admissions criteria adjusted accordingly?

Dave Ross, spokesperson for the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, said Ontario is compensating for the increased number of applicants.

“Certainly, we’re pulling our weight in Ontario; we’re one of the only provinces in Canada that is increasing spaces to meet the demand,” he said. The base funding allows for 5,000 spaces per year, but the government funded an additional 500 spaces in 1999/2000, 1,000 in 2000/01, and has provided 1,500 additional spaces in each of the past three school years.

An article in yesterday’s National Post reported that a Western graduate with a great deal of experience working with children, was denied entrance to the University of Toronto’s education program, claiming it was because he only had a three-year undergraduate degree.

According to Ian MacLeod, assistant registrar and admissions officer for education programs at U of T, and the chair of the Association of Education Registrars of Ontario Universities, the story was misleading.

“We’re not turning [applicants] away because we don’t think they’d be good teachers; across Ontario, everybody is going to be turning away lots of good people,” he said. “In the case of U of T, we had a little less than 5,000 [applicants]. I’ve spoken to a lot of people over the years — the vast majority of people who want to be teachers would do fine if given the opportunity.”

The question is whether academics or experience should determine a prospective student’s fate when applying to teacher’s colleges, MacLeod said, explaining Toronto’s approach: “Technically, it’s 50/50, but in any given year, 12 per cent of applicants can’t get a B average (the minimum for admission), but the vast majority will be in the academic ballpark,” he said, adding this left the candidates’ experience to determine whether or not they are offered places.

Though MacLeod said he was certain no one on his staff would tell someone they would not be accepted with a three-year undergraduate degree, he did acknowledge that applicants may do better to stick around for a fourth year.

“It is true that if you apply with a three-year degree, you are at a competitive disadvantage, but people [who do] get in all the time,” he said.

Margaret McNay, chair of Western’s bachelor of education program, said admissions vary depending on the program the prospective students apply to. “It’s very competitive,” she noted. “Our admissions criteria does show preference for four-year degrees, but in some areas where we don’t get a lot of applicants, if [applicants] fulfill all the other requirements, and we have room, three-year degrees are acceptable.”

McNay noted that Western accepts about 850 students, and Toronto’s program, according to MacLeod, accepts nearly 1,000 students from applicant pools of comparable size.



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