Students armed early for jobs fray

March 27, 1998

ONTARIO has instructed universities and colleges to arm students with the facts about the job prospects of each course.

The move is in response to high unemployment and student default on government loans in certain subjects. Now colleges must publish loan default, graduation and employment rates in their recruitment literature.

Jamie Mackay, director of the provincial education ministry's universities branch, said: "We want to know what chances a student has of completing a programme, getting a job and paying off his or her loan."

The ministry already provides data on loan default rates and graduation trends.

Universities will have difficulty tracking alumni to find out their employment status. Aside from the expense, Council of Ontario Universities representative Dan Lang said, with job trends changing, information on employment rates will not be very useful to a student years before they graduate. "We'd be better off spending this money on placement programmes for students than on unreliable data," Mr Lang said.

The University of Toronto, for example, compared its graduate employment rates to more broad-based national information. The exercise cost $Can50,000 (Pounds 23,000). "This is not a minor expense," Mr Lang said.

Mr Mackay said the expense would be a very small part of the $Can1.5 billion government operating grant to Ontario universities.

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