UR Guarantee gives students a pass to success
A much-hyped program at the University of Regina guarantees participating students that they will find employment in their career-related fields within six months of graduation. Otherwise, the university will waive the tuition and course fees for an additional 30 credit hours of undergraduate courses in the following year.
The very first of its kind across all universities in Canada, the UR Guarantee program was born a couple of years ago when the university was working with a Strategic Enrollment Management consultant to find ways to address declining enrolments due to attrition.
“Looking at different retention strategies that were out there, we realized that UR Guarantee would be something that we could implement across the curriculum,” said president Vianne Timmons, who supported the program right from the start.
“It is a way of keeping our students engaged in their studies, and in the overall university experience. The development opportunities help students develop their skill sets so they are more attractive to employers when they graduate, but perhaps more importantly, these opportunities help make them well-rounded citizens. That’s what the university experience should do,” Timmons explained.
She added, “I want all students who are eligible to know that it’s a very good option for them. I wish a program like it had existed for me when I was an undergraduate student.”
To be eligible, students must be enrolled in a minimum four-year degree; this includes newly-admitted, current, and transfer students with 30 credit hours or less. Students who meet the requirements and are enrolled through the university’s affiliates – Campion College, Luther College, and the First Nations University of Canada – are also eligible. As well, enrolled students are mandated to remain registered in a minimum of three classes per semester for at least two semesters a year. They must also graduate with a minimum grade point average of 70 per cent, explained Coby Stephenson, one of the program’s counselors.
“We have students attend workshops at the student success centre to help them become academically successful, so that is the first key. We want you to stay in school, we want you to get your degree – that’s the priority. Then, we want the students to become engaged on campus, so either joining a club, maybe they attend a theatre production so they are supporting the university. We are trying to stop parking lot students – the students who drive to school, go to their class, get back in their car and go home. We want then to get involved on campus, or if they join a student association or a club, maybe write an article for the Carillon, anything like that offered on campus. Attend a lecture series or conference, anything to support the university here at home counts.”
Chantel Goodin is a second year arts student who joined the program after hearing about it from a classmate of hers.
“I am just starting my second year, but so far the program is everything it promises to be,” she said. “My counselor has gone above and beyond in helping me achieve the things I want to achieve and providing me feedback to all my concerns. They also send out emails regularly about all the events taking place at the university so you always are aware of everything going on. I am attending school to achieve a career that I am passionate about and it only makes sense to do everything possible to make that happen and to be successful.”
She added that she would absolutely recommend the program to all students. “It is also a great program to meet a lot of people and find other students who have the same interests. The program also guarantees job placement after university. If a student is not successful, the program will help the student return to university to take additional classes one requires.”
Chris Wagman, another counselor at the program’s office, explained that if a graduate from the program failed to get a career job six months after their graduation, the university would bring them back for an additional year’s worth of classes.
“The coming back to school is not necessarily to get more training in your program, but to open up more options. If for example you were studying film and video production and could not get a job after six months, you might do a management course or get a language certificate when you come back just to open up more opportunities rather than just to focus on one opportunity which may have limited career job opportunities.”
Stephenson is, however, quick to add that she has so much confidence in the program that she thinks none of their students will be taking them up on the waiver.
“We think we are going to get everyone ready,” she said.
Brody Johb is a kinesiology student with the UR Guarantee program. He was attracted to the program due to the persistence of its coordinators.
“They pushed the program and did a very nice job explaining why the program would be beneficial for me. I also was attracted to the program because of the sheer experience the program brought forth. I believed even if I never followed through the entire program I would gain beneficial career experience,” said Johb, who – like Goodin – has completed the program’s 100 level.
The program, explains Doug O’Brian, another counselor, is self-directed in the sense that it is facilitated through the UR Courses as a non-credit activity. “They take part in all these activities – on and off campus – and then they log onto UR Courses and reflect on the different activities that they take part in and then us, as counselors, we will check in on their progress and then work with them on a periodic basis to go through the number of all the different criteria of the program.”
O'Brian added that the program is set to start operating bilingually soon.
Students with 30 credit hours or less who are interested in registering in the program are encouraged to stop by the UR Guarantee Program office at Riddell Centre 229.
For more information, visit the program’s website at uregina.ca/urguarantee.