October 19-25 marks International Open Access Week, a week dedicated to open access. United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organizations (UNESCO) defines open access (OA) as “free access to information and unrestricted use of electronic resources for everyone”. This year’s theme for Open Access Week is “Open with Purpose: Taking Action to Build Structural Equity and Inclusion.”
In the spirit of Open Access Week, we’ve broken down what access to post-secondary education looks like across the province of Manitoba.
Increasing tuition rates are a barrier to Manitobans accessing post-secondary education. Between the 2016-2017 academic year to the 2020-2021 academic year, undergraduate tuition fees have increased by 19.85% in Manitoba. In addition, funding for each post-secondary institution varies. A review of post-secondary education in Manitoba, Post-Secondary Education in Manitoba: A Blueprint for Opportunity and Growth, reported that “only 15% of the province’s PSE funding goes to the three institutions located outside of Winnipeg”: Assiniboine Community College, Brandon University, and the University College of the North.
Access to both broadband internet and computers is also a barrier to education. The Winnipeg School Division, for example, guesses that as many as 40% of students in the division do not have access to computers at home. However, “there’s little specific data on how Many Manitobans have access to enough devices … or the quality broadband internet required to make any device useful in the context of online classrooms.” (Winnipeg Free Press, 2020)
Gateways to Education in Manitoba
Despite the barriers to accessing post-secondary education across the province, there are many gateways to accessing education. Projects like the Wekitowak Project are aiming to provide high-speed internet across 31 First Nations and 19 other communities all over Manitoba.
Post-secondary institutions in Manitoba are also working hard to expand access to students across the province. Take the University College of the North (UCN), for example. With two main campuses and 12 regional centres, UCN’s geographical intake area is almost 80% of all of Manitoba!
In keeping with the theme of International Open Access Week, it is important to remember that “the worldwide OER movement is rooted in the human right to access high-quality education. The Open Education movement is not just about cost savings and easy access to openly licensed content; it’s about participation and co-creation” (OER Commons)
Let’s work together and focus on the need for equity and inclusion in post-secondary education, and take action towards making education more accessible for all Manitobans.
Campus Manitoba is a consortium of Manitoba’s public universities and colleges. Through collaborative projects and shared services, we facilitate student mobility and expand access to post-secondary programs for students in Manitoba. In addition to campusmanitoba.ca, our websites include ecoursesmb.ca, setyourcourse.ca, and openedmb.ca.
Access to education is at the heart of everything we do.
Here are the ways we work to make learning accessible in Manitoba.
eCourses is your resource for online learning in Manitoba, providing flexible pathways for you to achieve your academic or career goals. With more than 1,200 courses to choose from, you can craft an education that works best for you. Our Virtual Help Desk is here to help you navigate through courses from across Manitoba’s post-secondary institutions.
Home to more than 300 open educational resources (OERs), the Manitoba Open Textbook Initiative provides support to help you (as a faculty member) review, adapt and adopt open textbooks. If you’re a student, browse our collection of open textbooks that you can read, download or print for free.
Set Your Course is your launchpad for a Manitoba-specific education or career information. Get the knowledge you need to make informed decisions about your future; with career-planning tools, labour market information and links to Manitoba’s post-secondary institutions.
Campus Manitoba’s administrative office is located on Treaty 2 territory, with offices in Treaty 1 territory, the shared traditional lands of Anishinaabeg, Cree, Oji-Cree, Assiniboine, Dakota and Dene Peoples, and the homeland of the Métis Nation. Let this acknowledgement be an opening for us to learn more about the land we live on and envision a way to challenge racism, inequality and colonialism.