On Campus

URegina offers free classes for unemployed grads

If grads can't land jobs in their field within six months, school will pay for year of courses

Guarantees usually come when you buy things like a TV or maybe a car, but a Saskatchewan university is offering one for something different – an education.

The University of Regina has launched a guarantee program for students who can’t find a job in their field within six months of graduation. Under the plan, students can take another year of courses and the school will foot the bill for tuition.

The university says the guarantee is the first program of its kind at a Canadian university.

“It almost seems like a free insurance policy. You don’t have to pay anything into it and you’re guaranteed to get something out of it,” says Kyle Addison, a business administration student and president of the University of Regina Students’ Union.

The program will officially be up and running next September, but any student who started university this fall can apply for it.

Like any guarantee, there are rules that apply.

Barb Pollock, vice-president of external relations at the U of R, says among other things, students will have to maintain a 70 per cent average, take an active role in campus life and get career counselling to prepare for the job market.

“The whole idea is to not only help you maintain a successful path in your academics but to expose you and make you marketable, employable,” says Pollock.

“It also, there’s no doubt, could have a beneficial effect for us in recruitment. But the reason for it for us is the idea about getting students involved and engaged in the university from the get-go, the minute they walk in the door, so that they have a greater chance for success at the end of their program.”

Pollock says the University of Regina has the highest job placement rate in Saskatchewan at 97 per cent.

“We know that our grads are very employable already,” she says.

“We’re not guaranteeing a job. What we’re doing is saying that if you aren’t in a meaningful role that you’ve been studying for and aiming for over the last four years, in six months after graduation we will guarantee a year’s worth of honing skills that you may have found that you’re lacking.”

Students would also have to keep a job search or networking log, along with a professional portfolio that includes a resume, job-search plan and 20 to 40 employer contacts.

Addison doesn’t qualify for the program because he’s already in his third year of university studies. But he knows firsthand that students wonder what they’re going to do when they graduate and if they’re going to be able to find a job.

“I think every student does feel that way,” says Addison. “This (guarantee) definitely acts as a cushion because if they don’t find employment within six months then they’re welcomed back for a year of paid school.”

“There’s so much pressure going through four years, trying to get your degree and then sort of figure out what you’re going to do after,” he adds. “If I was a part of this U of R guarantee program, I’d be in the middle of my four-year degree program and I’d realize, ‘Well the U of R has my back, they’ll catch me if I fall and can’t find employment after six months.”‘

“It definitely takes the pressure off.”

– The Canadian Press

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