Media Releases

Ontario universities providing real-life work experience through placements, co-ops: COU’s new Bringing Life to Learning report shows

March 26, 2014

TORONTO, ON – Ontario’s uni­ver­si­ties are equip­ping the next gen­er­a­tion of lead­ers with the skills they need for career suc­cess by pro­vid­ing stu­dents with real-life work expe­ri­ence through place­ments, co-ops and intern­ships across all dis­ci­plines.

Bring­ing Life to Learn­ing at Ontario Uni­ver­si­ties, a report released today by the Coun­cil of Ontario Uni­ver­si­ties (COU), says applied learn­ing is one of the fastest grow­ing areas for uni­ver­si­ties.

“We know grad­u­ates with expe­ri­ence are more like­ly to find careers that inter­est them and secure full-time jobs,” says Max Blouw, COU Chair and Pres­i­dent of Wil­frid Lau­ri­er Uni­ver­si­ty. “Ontario uni­ver­si­ties are help­ing stu­dents to put the skills they learn at uni­ver­si­ty to prac­ti­cal use in the work­place and com­mu­ni­ty through a wide range of expe­ri­en­tial learn­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties out­side the class­room.”

Key find­ings:

  • Sta­tis­tics Canada’s most recent Nation­al Grad­u­ates Sur­vey shows grad­u­ates with a bach­e­lor degree and co-op expe­ri­ence earn more than their peers. They also have high­er full-time employ­ment rates and are more like­ly to pay off their debt with­in two years.
  • Today, work-inte­grat­ed learn­ing pro­grams at Ontario uni­ver­si­ties span all dis­ci­plines, from envi­ron­men­tal sci­ence to fine arts, engi­neer­ing and health sci­ences.
  • In an increas­ing­ly com­pet­i­tive job mar­ket, expe­ri­en­tial learn­ing makes stu­dents work­place-ready, set­ting them up for career suc­cess.
  • Many thou­sands of stu­dents have found full-time work in their fields of study as a result of expe­ri­en­tial learn­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties at uni­ver­si­ties.
  • Employ­ers often require two-to-five years of work expe­ri­ence. Applied learn­ing pro­grams can help new grads meet that require­ment.

“Expe­ri­en­tial learn­ing ben­e­fits employ­ers as well as stu­dents,” says Bon­nie M. Pat­ter­son, COU’s Pres­i­dent and CEO. “Employ­ers get to test new tal­ent and are brought new ideas and fresh per­spec­tives that can lead to sig­nif­i­cant improve­ments at their busi­ness­es or orga­ni­za­tions. Stu­dents gain hands-on expe­ri­ence and dis­cov­er what types of careers and orga­ni­za­tions would be a good fit for them.”

Thou­sands of stu­dents have found full-time work in their fields of study as a result of expe­ri­en­tial learn­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties at uni­ver­si­ty.

“Con­grat­u­la­tions to COU on the release of this report, which dis­cuss­es the impor­tance of applied learn­ing pro­grams that com­bine tra­di­tion­al teach­ing meth­ods with hands-on activ­i­ties that help stu­dents learn in new ways,” says the Hon. Brad Duguid, Ontario’s Min­is­ter of Train­ing, Col­leges and Uni­ver­si­ties. “Our gov­ern­ment rec­og­nizes that expe­ri­en­tial learn­ing cours­es help our stu­dents devel­op the valu­able prac­ti­cal skills that many employ­ers are seek­ing for our 21st cen­tu­ry glob­al econ­o­my.”

Read the full Bring­ing Life to Learn­ing report here.

View COU’s Bring­ing Life to Learn­ing info­graph­ic here.


COU is a mem­ber­ship orga­ni­za­tion of 21 pub­licly assist­ed uni­ver­si­ties in Ontario. It works close­ly with the provin­cial and fed­er­al gov­ern­ments to shape pub­lic poli­cies that help uni­ver­si­ties deliv­er high-qual­i­ty pro­grams for stu­dents and advance the research and inno­va­tion that improves the social, cul­tur­al and eco­nom­ic well-being of Ontar­i­ans.

Vis­it the COU web­site
Fol­low us on Face­book
Fol­low us on Twit­ter

For fur­ther infor­ma­tion, please con­tact:

Wendy McCann
Direc­tor, Strate­gic Com­mu­ni­ca­tions and Media Rela­tions
Tele­phone: 416–979-2165 x233
Cell phone: 647–271-0825
Email Wendy McCann


Lisa Kraw­iec

Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Advi­sor & Exec­u­tive Assis­tant to the Pres­i­dent
Coun­cil of Ontario Uni­ver­si­ties
180 Dun­das Street West, Suite 1100
Toron­to, ON M5G 1Z8
T: 416.979.2165 ext. 239
F: 416.979.8635
ON Uni­ver­si­ties’ Blog