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University of Calgary partners with Portage College to deliver bachelor of social work degree

Portage CollegeIn collaboration with the University of Calgary, students wanting to complete a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree are now able to study at Portage College in Lac La Biche. This cohort will begin classes in the fall of 2013 and receive classroom-based instruction delivered by the University of Calgary.

Portage College Dean of Business, Arts and Humanities, Guy Gervais received the letter of confirmation from the Dean of the Faculty of Social Work from the University of Calgary, Dr. Jackie Sieppert on September 30, 2012.

“This partnership brings a degree opportunity in the field of social work to our students,” said Dean Gervais. “The Community Social Work program at Portage College celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2010 and graduates can now complete a BSW degree within their local region. The University of Calgary Learning Circles BSW provides geographically and culturally relevant curriculum for students intending to practise social work in rural, remote, First Nation and Métis communities.

“We are excited to be partnering with the University of Calgary in the delivery of the program,” he added.

Bonita Decaire, Coordinator of the Community Social Work and University Studies programs at Portage explained that there are two entries into the BSW program through the Community Social Work diploma program or through University Studies.

She added,” This is an incredible opportunity to obtain a Bachelor of Social Work degree. I am extraordinarily proud of the community and the team that helped bring the degree program to our community. As a partner in the continuum of education, we are looking forward to the challenges of the joint venture and benefits of the program.”

The interest is extremely high, said Dean Gervais. Already, the college has had inquiries about the program from more than 100 prospective students for the 30 available seats.

Portage College offers the first two years of study in the form of the Community Social Work diploma, which then transfers directly into year three of the University of Calgary Bachelor of Social Work degree program.

At the Lac La Biche campus, students will benefit from being able to study in their own communities with the support of their friends and family. Other than tuition, students do not have to incur the living costs of being in a city. Daycare is much easier to access and usually less expensive than what could be found in an urban centre. Small classroom sizes and closely knit, team-centred learning groups are also benefits to students who are attracted to this program.

“We are pleased to enter into this partnership,” said Dean Sieppert. “At a fundamental level, the partnership will facilitate the exchange of students, non-financial resources and administrative supports to deliver the Faculty of Social Work’s BSW program in the Lac La Biche region. We also look forward to indentifying further benefits for both post-secondary institutions in this partnership.”

Dr. Sieppert added that enhancing program visibility, innovative student placements, joint research opportunities and community participation in lectures are all added benefits to the program.

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