New program appeals to shorter programs lengths, loses some benefits
The UR Guarantee program is officially out of the spotlight. On November 22, the Centre for Experiential and Service Learning (CESL) opened its doors to students and faculty. The CESL brings together cooperative education, internships, student employment services, Indigenous career education, career exploration and counseling, and the volunteer centre all under one roof.
UR Guarantee stopped accepting new applications on April 30, 2022.
“Students currently registered in the UR Guarantee will still be able to use the same supports, advising, and resources they previously had access to, or can join in the programming available through the Centre for Experiential and Service Learning (CESL) opening in the Fall 2022,” said the UR Guarantee page on the University of Regina website.
The UR Guarantee program is also being swapped out, opting for a microcredential system involving eight digital badges. The University of Regina is the latest of a number of universities across the country who have started using microcredentials, which are short courses designed to teach particular skills. Pilots of microcredentials have been funded by the provincial governments of British Columbia, Quebec, and Ontario.
The new online badges can be completed by students at any time in their university career, and each badge is supposed to cover specific resume skills. The completion of a badge will involve completing certain workshops, events, meetings, or experiences. For example, the Leadership badge requires completing 13 hours of workshops plus a choice of volunteer opportunities on campus.
The advantage of the new badge program is that the badges can be completed at any time, whereas the UR Guarantee program had particular requirements for each year of a four-year degree. This change would also open up the program to those completing degrees shorter than four years. The old UR Guarantee program also involved guarantee of a job offer in a student’s field, or would compensate with free tuition for additional classes if all the requirements were completed. However, there is no sign on the University of Regina’s website about a similar guarantee going forward.
Sandy Pipko, an Indigenous Co-op Coordinator, said that the new center would “revitalize everything, and hopefully get more students involved.” CESL will help the university expand their volunteer program to include off-campus volunteering.
“Any students that are interested in volunteering in the community, they would sign up with us,” said Isha Larson, an Experiential Learning Coordinator with CESL. “We would get them trained, explain to them what their role will be, what the expectations will be, what they can expect in the program, and how we’re going to be here for the whole process.”
Zeeshan Nasir, a third-year science student and current U of R Ambassador, attended the CESL opening. Nasir spoke about his experience with the on-campus volunteer program. He said that he originally joined the program because he thought it looked like fun and wanted to gain more volunteer experience.
“There was one student who drove eight hours just to get here on campus,” said Zeeshan who recounted his experiences volunteering. “Then when we were able to welcome him and we took him to his dorm, I remember that he was just so thankful of how great we were with him.”
“We welcome all students to come by and check it out, […] come in and ask us what we’re doing, and we’ll go from there,” said Kevin Fiessel, manager of Career Education.