The Canadian Association for Co-operative Education (CAFCE) voted to amended its definition of co-operative education at its annual general meeting, which took place at the University of Waterloo on November 2nd. The amended definition reflects current best practices in co-operative education and CAFCE’s commitment to inclusivity amongst its more than 80 member institutions. The revision process began last year when CAFCE approved new accreditation requirements for programs shorter than two years, a change that allowed for greater participation among graduate-level and college co-op programs. The approval of the new requirements also necessitated a review of CAFCE’s key documents for consistency and accuracy, and the resulting definition will be used to guide the design of university and college co-op programs throughout Canada.
“With the new accreditation requirements and amended definition, we anticipate growth in co-op programs at both the college and university level,” said CAFCE Accreditation Council chair Muriel Klemetski. “These changes will allow for an increase in quality paid work experiences for co-op students, including those with disabilities.”
CAFCE's old definition of co-operative education:
CO-OPERATIVE EDUCATION DEFINITION:
"Co operative Education Program" means a program which alternates periods of academic study with periods of work experience in appropriate fields of business, industry, government, social services and the professions in accordance with the following criteria:
(i) each work situation is developed and/or approved by the co-operative educational institution as a suitable learning situation;
(ii) the co-operative student is engaged in productive work rather than merely observing;
(iii) the co-operative student receives remuneration for the work performed;
(iv) the co-operative student's progress on the job is monitored by the co-operative educational institution;
(v) the co-operative student's performance on the job is supervised and evaluated by the student's co-operative employer;
(vi) the total amount of coop work experience is normally at least 30% of the time spent in academic study, but for programs of two years or less, the total amount may be a minimum of 25%. For programs to meet the 25% requirement, a work term is defined as a minimum 12 weeks and/or 420 hours of full-time, paid experience.”
CAFCE's amended definition of co-operative education (additions and changes bolded):
CO-OPERATIVE EDUCATION DEFINITION*
"Co-operative Education Program" means a program which alternates periods of academic study with periods of work experience in appropriate fields of business, industry, government, social services and the professions in accordance with the following criteria:
(i) Each work term is developed in partnership with the employer and approved by the co-operative education program as a suitable learning environment;
(ii) The student is engaged in productive work for which the student receives remuneration;
(iii) The co-op curriculum supports student learning goals, personal evaluation and reflection;
(iv) The student's performance in the workplace is supervised and evaluated by the student's employer;
(v) The student's progress during their work term is monitored by the co-operative education program;
(vi) Both work and academic terms are full-time and follow a formalized sequence. The total amount of co-op work experience is normally at least 30% of the time spent in academic study. For programs of two years or less the total amount may be a minimum of 25%. A work term is defined as a minimum of 12 weeks and/or 420 hours full-time paid experience;
(vii) Co-op Programs begin and end on an academic term;
(viii) The student completing multiple work terms is normally exposed to the work environment during more than one season of the year.
*The Co-operative Education Definition criteria are intended for program design and reflect the Guiding Principles of the Canadian Association for Co-operative Education accreditation requirements.
CAFCE acknowledges and affirms the rights of students with disabilities to have equal access to co-operative education programming. Exceptions to the above will be supported to meet the duty to accommodate and ensure that all students have full and equal access of all human rights and fundamental freedoms.