Special Feature
Students at University Canada West
Credit: University canada west

Get used to highly customized programs and just-in-time learning

If you Google “education for professionals in Canada,” no fewer than 522 million results will appear. This of course doesn’t represent how many opportunities are available to would-be or fledgling executives, but it does suggest enough programs are in operation to suit virtually anyone’s needs.

The bustling landscape of education for professionals is benefitting smaller institutions. “We used to think of ourselves as the best kept secret in town, but that’s no longer the case as we have grown over our past 10 years in Vancouver to the point where we’ll soon have to locate to a bigger facility,” says Sinan Caykoylu, associate dean for New York Tech – Vancouver’s MBA program.

Brock Dykeman, president of University Canada West, says the popularity of his institution’s MBA programs has contributed to its success—and necessitated a move next year to a bigger campus in downtown Vancouver. “Currently we’re enjoying great feedback with our focus of fusing tech elements into our MBA courses via Salesforce, Tableau, IBM Design Thinking and so forth,” he says. “It’s another way of ensuring that when our students graduate and get jobs, they will have the hands-on skills required to hit the ground running.”

Stephanie Howes, dean, KPU School of Business (Kwantlen Polytechnic University), describes Kwantlen, which has grown to accommodate 21,000 students, “as a big institution with small-institution benefits, coupled with the polytechnic ethos of thought meeting action. In addition to offering new and updated diplomas, we’re focused on making our programming even more accessible to adult learners, in order not to disrupt their jobs or lifestyle.”

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If there is a common goal linking the diverse program offerings from New York Tech – Vancouver, University Canada West and KPU School of Business, it is preparing would-be professionals with practical work experience and advanced skills.

New York Tech – Vancouver welcomes enrolees who have only one or two years of work experience. “This is important, because many of the bigger, iconic universities only accept people into their MBAs who have four to 10 years of experience,” says Caykoylu. “In short, we take a chance on those with less skills and aptitude, and we prepare them to be job ready as quickly as possible. It’s a measure of our success that 98 percent of our graduates secure jobs shortly after leaving our campus.”

Plus, New York Tech – Vancouver is more affordable than the larger institutions. “We don’t charge $80,000 tuition fees,” says Caykoylu. “We also waive some courses—for example, basic accounting skills—if the student has experience and displays an aptitude that would make them redundant. Students also get credit for undertaking projects with clients in the business world.”

New York Tech – Vancouver recognizes that in a landscape choked with so many MBA programs, getting a leg up during a job interview is of vital importance, “Which is why we persuade our students to become professionally certified—whether the designation is CPA, CFA or something else,” says Caykoylu.

At KPU School of Business, fine-tuning her institution’s offerings to make adult learning more accessible is a personal passion for Howes. At 19 she obtained an office administration certificate from KPU and worked for five years in different law firms. She then returned to KPU and obtained an undergraduate degree in nursing. After a few years working in the health-care field (during which time she also worked towards obtaining a master of education at the University of British Columbia), she accepted an offer to return yet again to KPU to work at its Wellness Centre. This led to an 11-year teaching stint, followed by time as associate dean of health and associate dean in the School of Business. Earlier this year, she was named dean of the School of Business.

Howes, who will be starting her Doctorate of Business Administration in 2020, says, “My adult education allowed me to climb the ladder and attain this amazing position in a respected institution. But it was terribly difficult to juggle work and life with schooling, and many people simply feel they can’t do it.”

Hence, if adult learners take KPU’s newly updated Public Relations diploma this fall, they are automatically linked to obtain a BBA or Bachelor of Arts. “That’s just one example of how we’re making things more accessible,” says Howes. “We’re also offering open registration and no cohorts.”

Another example: KPU’s new Green Business Management and Sustainability as well as the new Global Business Management business graduate diplomas give learners the option to finish their MBAs online at their choice of international universities. “This is how we specialize our MBAs, and it’s a unique offering,” says Howes. This is in addition to many other offerings, including KPU’s Post Baccalaureate programs in technical management and services as well as operations and supply chain management, plus a certificate in Legal Administrative Assistant Studies (which recognizes the fact that such assistants are among the highest-paid office assistants in B.C.)

At the University Canada West, the ACBSP-accredited UCW MBA degree challenges students in areas vital to business operation and administration. It develops core competencies in critical thinking, persuasive communication, system analysis, leadership, and business ethics. Emphasis is placed on the application of theories, teaching students case studies relating to a large variety of industries in Canada and around the world.
University Canada West also understands that some students do not have the professional or academic qualifications but wish to pursue the MBA program; therefore, they have the option of completing the three MBA Foundation courses. “We’ve enjoyed steady growth since being founded in 2004 because we’re constantly evolving, and as we make the transition to our new downtown Vancouver campus next spring, we will have three specialities: marketing; finance and leadership; and technology,” says Dykeman.

Regardless of the institution, the ability to offer distinguishing features is prevalent. One of New York Tech – Vancouver’s distinguishing features is that it is AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business) certified. “All of our campuses earned that prestigious certification in 2015, and only 5 percent of the top business schools have it,” says Caykoylu.

One of University Canada West’s many distinguishing features is its size. “We pride ourselves on having class sizes of typically about 20 students,” says Dykeman. “This, combined with the fact that many of our faculty members are still working in industry or consulting, provides superior one-on-one learning experiences for our students.”

At KPU, the operational philosophy “is for students to do several semesters, get into the working world, and come back and get a bachelor’s or another diploma,” says Howes. “We promote lifelong learning, and our differentiator is our polytechnic component of learning something, practicing it, then going to the next step—in an atmosphere where class sizes are small and the instructors know your name.”

Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s newest campus is situated in the heart of downtown Surrey