This PEW project, funded by the Ontario Human Capital Research and Innovation Fund, examined bachelor’s degrees offered by Ontario’s colleges of applied arts and technologies. CAAT baccalaureates were first offered in 2002. Now, fifteen years later, how have these unique degrees taken their place alongside traditional baccalaureates, and in the labour market?
Coordinated by post-doctoral fellow Qin Liu, the PEW team conducted a literature review, analysed policy and accreditation documents, and studied the websites of the thirteen public colleges offering a bachelor’s degree. Diane Simpson led a comparative curriculum review, examining similarities and differences between CAAT and traditional bachelor’s degrees in three fields of study. We conducted interviews with 102 participants at seven colleges.
From our research, we concluded that Ontario’s “CAAT Baccs” have largely fulfilled their intended purposes, serving distinctive roles for students, industry, and previously underserved provincial regions. However, college degrees still have challenges in balancing their distinctiveness with their equivalence to university degrees, in building general understanding of their quality, in graduates gaining access to master’s degrees, and in discussing opportunities to further adapt regulatory standards and processes.
College degrees are largely fulfilling their intended purposes…
However, there are also challenges and tensions:
This project examined the pathways that students take within and between fields of education, as well as between fields of education and occupations. Using data collected from the 2013 National Graduates Survey, the project compared similarities and differences between Ontario and all of Canada. Findings suggest that links between qualifications within the same field of education were weak, as were links between fields of education and occupations. Most students opted to change their field of study when pursuing a second postsecondary education qualification, and the field of study they chose varied depending on whether pathways were within colleges or universities, or between colleges and universities. Similarly, the links between fields of education and occupations were quite weak, with the exception of regulated occupations (such as in nursing or engineering) where the links between fields of education and occupations was much tighter.
This research was funded by the Ontario Ministry for Training, Colleges and Universities through the Ontario Human Capital Research and Innovation Fund (OHCRIF). The final report for this project was submitted in 2016. We thank the MTCU for the opportunity to undertake this research and for their support throughout the project.