Survey shows change is needed

The Institutional Research department claims that “97% of career/vocational graduates who sought employment had a job within six months of graduation”. This of course, ignored what kind of a job was received, their wages, and whether their degree had anything to do with it. Capilano prides itself on providing an ‘applied education’ that stems from its roots as a community college. But how well do students do in the job marketplace, vis-à-vis other colleges and universities? How do our Bachelor of Music graduates do compared to graduates from UBC, SFU, VCC, and many other schools that offer similar programs? How well do our Acting for Stage and Screen students do comparatively?
The Baccalaureate Graduates Survey (BGS) and Diploma, Associate Degree, and Certificate Student Outcomes (DACSO) Survey are the two government tools in the Accountability Framework that track student success. The results are based on these surveys that are given to students two years after they have graduated. Student readers should be aware that this is likely their sole opportunity to give feedback on their education which schools formally process; any institutional change is likely to come through this regulated medium.
By policy, all public post-secondary institutions must report to the BC Ministry of Advanced Education figures and statistics on their students and alumni. To ensure that taxpayer funding is received from the government, there are school-defined targets that are set annually that need to be met, such as Aboriginal enrollment, student retention rates, number of international students, and so forth. These figures are found annually in the “Institutional Accountability Plans and Reports,” part of the BC Ministry’s Accountability Framework that keeps institutions accountable to students and the public. Inclusive in these accountability reports are figures that are particularly relevant to the average student at Capilano – unemployment rate, average salary, and education satisfaction for specific degree, diploma, and certificate programs. This report alone is the most important document that will come out of the President’s Office and Board of Governors – the highest decision-making bodies that are in charge of the education at Capilano.
The results may surprise you.
The highest earning bachelor degree at Capilano is surprisingly, music therapy. Their median annual full-time income two years after graduation is $53,324. The lowest earning bachelor degree at Capilano was jazz studies – the 2008 survey of Bachelor of Music graduates showed that 57% of respondents earned less than $20,000 a year. The typical debt for all Capilano graduates was $15,000.
While research universities like UBC, SFU, and UVic have been awarding bachelor degrees for decades since their foundation, Capilano is a new player in the world of degree-granting institutions. Therefore, comparing degrees from Capilano to degrees from UBC may be a bit like comparing apples to oranges, and also unfair given Capilano’s relatively new degrees coupled with university status. Instead, it is more relevant and useful to compare Capilano’s bachelor degrees to those from schools such as Kwantlen, UFV, TRU, and other new universities.
While Capilano is the only school in Western Canada to offer a degree in music therapy, also their highest earning degree, it is not the only school to offer business studies. Business administration graduates from Capilano were the second-highest earners with a medical annual income of $45,380. Both degrees, however, paled in comparison to other institutions. The median income at BCIT for business administration was $60,000, and the median income at Kwantlen for business administration was $52,000.
Other survey results are more bewildering. The most common full-time occupation for Bachelor of Tourism Management degree-holders was Secondary School Teachers. The job titles among graduates were spread out so thin that the Ministry could not publicly report them; the BGS requires that at least two graduates hold the same job/field for the data to be released, for privacy and statistical concerns. This succinctly indicates that graduates of the Bachelor of Tourism Management program find it difficult to get a relevant job.
One of the best programs at Capilano is the foundation in illustration and design (IDEA) diploma program. IDEA graduates do very well two years out of school. 40 out of 43 respondents were employed as creative designers and craftspeople, with a median hourly wage of $19, and had one of the highest satisfaction rates at Capilano.
Resident Care Attendant certificate graduates also do well, earning $19 similarly. 48 out of 61 respondents were working in health support.
On the other end of the spectrum is the acting program. In the fine arts, one of Capilano’s programming strengths—the Acting for Stage and Screen Certificate program—does not report stunning success for its graduates. In 2009, only 10 graduates gave specific information about their employment. Only 3 of those 10 were employed as “creative and performing artists.” 17 out of 27 respondents that shared some details of their employment said their job was “not very related” or “not at all related” to their studies. Furthermore, the median hourly wage of acting graduates was $10, and 42% of respondents ended up studying in another program after they graduated from acting.
Likewise, graduates from Capilano’s full-time, two-year diploma in Film Production faced similar problems – 34 out of 86 ended up working in a job unrelated to their studies with a median hourly wage of $12. In comparison, graduates from BCIT’s part-time, one-year certificate in film had a median hourly wage of $15 and only 5 out of 24 had unrelated employment.
One main reason why Capilano may lag behind sister institutions is quite simple – students generally have few opportunities to gain work experience while at Capilano.
While nearly every school has a formal cooperative education program open to all students, or what students often refer to as “co-op,” Capilano does not. For example, Douglas College, Langara College, UBC, SFU, UVic, and many other schools offer co-op programs, staffed by coordinators, placement officers, and program assistants. Their jobs are specifically to help students gain meaningful employment and experience. The only co-op program at Capilano is exclusively for Tourism Management/Destination Resort Management students. Capilano used to offer co-op to its post-diploma students in the McRae Institute of International Management, but that program has been cancelled since the departure of Geoffrey Bird, formerly the program convener, who accepted a position at Royal Roads University.
Capilano’s most helpful resource for the majority of students not studying Tourism is likely the “Student Employment Services” website, which is an online job board for employers to post job advertisements; there is no real office. Capilano business students additionally have access to their “Career Development Office,” which is staffed by Sarah Sharp in CE 338. Business schools tend to have their own private, internal postings for their students, as is the case with the Sauder School of Business at UBC and the Faculty of Business at SFU; unfortunately, the School of Business at Capilano does not have this either.
Considering the survey results detailing the outcomes of Capilano students, the administration has a lesson to be learned. With a new university president to be selected, he or she ought to heed the signs and implement change. For starters, a new president needs to take the first steps in giving more students opportunities at Capilano, by supporting student career development and employment. Otherwise, Capilano will not catch up to its peer institutions.

//Keith Van,

Enjoy it? Share this on Facebook


© 2011 The Capilano Courier. phone: 604.984.4949 fax: 604.984.1787 email: