Laurier partners with The Working Centre for new program

Wilfrid Laurier University will be partnering with The Working Centre to provide a program called Access to University, or A2U.

Funded by the Lyle S. Hallman Foundation’s grant of nearly $400,000, the program will provide two cohorts of 15 community members the opportunity to take courses at WLU.

The cohorts will be made up of non-traditional students. This could include new immigrants, older workers, people with disabilities or in low-income households, as well as indigenous people.

With their knowledge of the community, The Working Centre has begun to establish guidelines for choosing the 30 people that will enter the program.

The first cohort will begin this coming fall with a semester-long learning circle course offered at The Working Centre. The students will complete part A and B of an integration course in the winter and spring semesters of next year, respectively.

They will then be able to enroll in three courses of their choosing within the arts faculty starting in fall, 2017.

Bob Sharpe, associate professor at Laurier and faculty liaison for the project, says that the program will help these students integrate into the Laurier community and give them the opportunity to pursue a post-secondary degree should they choose to do so.

“Once they finish the five credits, they are fully registered at Laurier,” Sharpe said.

“They could then move on and take courses either in the faculty of arts or any other faculty that they’re prepared for. There is no commitment on their part to continue at Laurier. They might decide that’s enough exposure to the university environment, I think I’ll go to college instead, or I’ll just rely on that to upgrade my resume.”

Laurier’s partnership with The Working Centre began three years ago with the introduction of the Community Engagement option offered under the faculty of arts.

The option offered Laurier students within the faculty of arts the opportunity to go into the local community and meet local people and experience local culture. The idea of the A2U program is to extend that offer to the local community to explore Laurier.

“We really see it as a win-win for Laurier and The Working Centre. Some of our Laurier students can actually mentor these A2U students and these people have experience in the real world and they can come into our classrooms and really participate and add to the kinds of discussions we have in class,” Sharpe said.

The program began with a pilot course run during this past winter semester at The Working Centre with the participation of nine students.

These nine students will have the ability to continue the program next spring semester when the second part to that course is offered under the A2U umbrella.

Sharpe hopes that the program is successful and will be able to be extended beyond the two cohorts to help welcome other students to Laurier in the future.


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