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Changes to teacher qualification regulations

Recent changes to legislation governing teacher qualifications could increase the pool of people who will qualify to enter teacher education programs in Ontario.

The provincial government has accepted an Ontario College of Teachers proposal to amend the teacher qualification regulation by changing an "acceptable university degree" to an "acceptable postsecondary degree."

This change makes it possible for applicants with degrees from institutions recognized under the Post-secondary Education Choice and Excellence Act to qualify for admission to programs of professional education and teacher certification in Ontario. In addition, individuals with master's degrees or doctorates from these institutions can use those designations to meet requirements for principal and supervisory officer qualifications.

Seventeen publicly supported universities in Ontario are authorized to grant degrees by a statute of the legislature (or, in the case of Queen's University, by a royal charter). These universities are members of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC). An equal number of privately funded institutions have been granted restricted degree-granting authority by the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. The Post-secondary Education Choice and Excellence Act enables additional degree-granting institutions to operate in Ontario.

Previously, having an "acceptable university degree" - and the ability to qualify for admission to a Bachelor of Education program - meant having a degree from a university belonging to the AUCC. Some community colleges can grant applied degrees but do not meet the AUCC's criteria for membership.

The recognition of postsecondary degrees is "very meaningful to us," says Sara McKinnon, Vice President, Academic at the Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD).

OCAD students who graduate with a Bachelor of Fine Arts or a Bachelor of Design can now apply to university teacher education programs. Many of the 320 OCAD graduates who have returned to the art college for upgrading would be interested in teaching as a career, she says.

OCAD has offered a four-year degree (BFA, BDes) since June 2002. Because of this change in legislation OCAD is exploring further partnerships with Ontario's faculties of education.

Ontario's newest public university, the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) offers degrees under the authority of consent from the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities.

Bill Hunter, the Dean of UOIT's faculty of education, says the change resolves a potential conflict. UOIT's own undergrads would not have qualified to enter the concurrent Bachelor of Education program that begins at the university this fall, pending accreditation approvals.

Hunter says that UOIT has discovered "an enormous amount of interest among engineers who want to become teachers," and now offers a consecutive teacher education program.

Other changes to the teacher qualifications regulation (184/97) include recognizing 194 days as the duration of a school year and removing tuberculosis tests as a prerequisite for College certification. Tuberculosis tests remain the responsibility of employers and are required by faculties of education prior to practicum assignments.