Memorial University has released a report of a study into the post-secondary education (PSE) needs of people in Labrador. The report, titled Post-Secondary Education in Labrador, was commissioned by Memorial after a meeting with stakeholders in Labrador in November 2005. It was prepared by consultant Catherine Jong of CMJ Consulting in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.
The 54-page report attempts to document the PSE-level educational needs in Labrador at present and to provide direction for the future. The report identifies a number of challenges that, in the views of the author, need to be addressed in order to successfully deliver increased post-secondary education offerings to the people of Labrador. These challenges include a low rate of high school graduation in some geographical areas, the high proportion of adults with less than high school education, as well as language and cultural barriers. The report concludes with 11 recommendations that call for increased collaboration among PSE stakeholders; increased Labrador-based research; provision of university offerings in varied formats, venues and schedules to reflect the varied needs of the population; and expanded transition-support services for aboriginal learners.
Memorial President Axel Meisen said the university will examine the report’s recommendations in detail, as it gives important information that will help the university develop offerings to meet the educational needs of the people of Labrador.
“Access to a university education does not necessarily mean undertaking a four-year degree program,” explained Dr. Meisen. “Given the particular needs and circumstances of many learners in Labrador, we might offer more targeted and customized offerings,” he said. “These could include short, intensive courses, certificate and diploma programs. Areas which lend themselves to this approach are business, economics, political science, public administration, fishery and tourism.”
“To serve the needs of Labradorians who are unable to leave their home communities for full-time university studies, we want to find strategies that help those who have the aptitude and motivation to pursue post-secondary education,” he said.
Dr. Michael Collins, the associate vice-president (academic) at Memorial, said many learners in Labrador do not fit the profile of a traditional university student. With varied levels of academic preparation and often with family commitments that are a barrier to engaging in full-time study, they have diverse educational and professional development needs. He said this report should help Memorial meet the needs of the people of Labrador.
“We’ve had a tremendous level of community support and engagement in this study and we will be working with our stakeholders to review the finding and determine our next steps,” said Dr. Collins.
In addition to the work completed by the independent consultant Ms. Jong, the study was guided by a committee consisting of Dr. Ron Sparkes, acting director of the Labrador Institute; Bob Simms, campus administrator of the Happy Valley-Goose Bay campus of the College of the North Atlantic; Paul Chancey, director of Memorial’s Centre for Institutional Analysis and Planning; and Dr. Collins, whose office oversees the Labrador Institute.
Dr. Collins said the next stage of the process is for the university, the College of the North Atlantic, and the Department of Education, in consultation with the other major stakeholders, to determine how best to proceed in analyzing and implementing the report’s recommendations.
At Memorial, the university’s Senate and the Board of Regents will also be asked to study the report and decide on how best to respond to its recommendations. The university community will also be given the opportunity to review the report and provide input into the implementation of its recommendations.