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Access to Education: A Manitoba Perspective

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 access to education can improve the overall health and longevity of a society, grow economies, and even combat climate change.” Yet many Manitobans face barriers to accessing post-secondary education in the province.

Barriers to Education in 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)

access to education differs

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!

Many institutions offer regional program delivery, providing students from rural and remote communities the opportunity to pursue their educational goals without needing to move. Assiniboine Community College (ACC) delivers a variety of rotating Practical Nursing diploma program, in addition to their permanent Practical Nursing programs in Brandon, Winnipeg, and Dauphin. ACC also partnered with three (3) Manitoba First Nations communities to deliver a Child Development Worker program. Brandon University’s Program for the Education of Native Teachers (PENT) combines professional work experience in rural and Northern communities with courses at Brandon University. The University of Manitoba offers a Distance Delivery Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) Program, as well as a Northern Social Work ACCESS Program, designed for mature students living in Thompson and surrounding areas.

Various institutions also have a assortment of certificates and diplomas that can be completed online, such as Red River College, The University of Winnipeg Professional, Applied, and Continuing Education (PACE), and Extended Education at the University 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)

Did you know Campus Manitoba was designed to provide access to post-secondary education within the province of Manitoba? For 30 years, access to education has been at the heart of everything we do. With an emphasis on online learning, Manitoba-specific career planning, and open education, we are here to support you on your post-secondary journey.

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.

Published On: October 19, 2020|Categories: Open Education|Tags: , |

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