What is CEWIL Canada accreditation?

Members of Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning (CEWIL Canada) first established criteria and a process for the accreditation of co-operative education programs (co-op) in 1979. Accreditation standards were developed to establish co-op as an educational strategy and to provide leadership in ensuring quality co-op programming.

Accreditation Council members from across Canada articulate and review accreditation measures as the needs of students, employers and institutions change. In order to qualify for accreditation, Co-op programs must provide documentation demonstrating the following:

  • structural criteria
  • co-op in the institutional context
  • institutional commitment criteria
  • quality program delivery criteria
  • monitoring and evaluation criteria

Maintaining accreditation criteria helps build quality into existing co-op programs and provides a benchmark for establishing new co-op programs.

Institutions seeking accreditation are eligible to apply once their first co-op class has graduated. A review team, consisting of three (3) members from separate institutions that offer co-operative education, evaluates the application and submits its recommendation to the Accreditation Council for their final approval. Programs maintain their accreditation status for a period of six (6) years.

Mentorship is available for those who are interested in becoming accredited. Please contact the CEWIL office to inquire.

NEW TO ACCREDITATION CRITERIA:

The following was approved at the CEWIL Canada, formerly known as CAFCE, Annual Meeting October 29, 2015:

Whereby the total amount of coop work experience is normally at least 30% of the time spent in academic study, but for programs of two years or less, the total amount may be a minimum of 25%. For programs to meet the 25% requirement, a work term is defined as a minimum 12 weeks and/or 420 hours full-time, paid experience.

*The accreditation fee is $500.00 per application.

Hours of Work

HOURS OF WORK

What is the rationale behind the minimum of 35 hours per week required for co-op positions to be qualified as full-time?

The decision is based on research regarding current practice of accredited programs and discussion at Accreditation Council meetings, where it was determined that 35 hours per week is the minimum recommended.

To view the updated alternating work term program length document click here.

New to Accreditation criteria:

The following was approved at the CAFCE Annual Meeting October 29, 2015:

Whereby the total amount of coop work experience is normally at least 30% of the time spent in academic study, but for programs of two years or less, the total amount may be a minimum of 25%. For programs to meet the 25% requirement, a work term is defined as a minimum 12 weeks and/or 420 hours full-time, paid experience.

For more information on this, please contact the CEWIL Canada office.

To view the updated alternating work term program length document click here.

Scheduling of Work Terms

The Accreditation Guide and Application stipulates that co-op work terms occur in different seasons of the year. How does this apply to programs with summer-only work terms?

The requirement is to ensure students have exposure to real differences in demand, priorities and the nature of the work environment at different times of the year. Any exceptions must clearly show that the type of work is strictly seasonal in nature. The applicant may call upon provincial or regional employment data to illustrate that opportunities for graduates within these fields are restricted due to seasonal conditions. Golf-course management and specialized construction programs are two examples where work may not be available year-round. Exceptions related to limited resources or scheduling challenges are not considered.

How does this work for programs with two or more work terms?

Programs that are more than two years in length must meet the 30% minimum outlined above and work terms must be scheduled during more than one season.

For two-year college programs?

Two-year programs that meet the 25% minimum requirement have only one work term so the seasonal requirement does not apply.

Is it possible to have both eight-month and four-month work terms in one program?

Yes, the total amount of time spent on work terms in this scenario is equivalent to three fourth-month work terms and it meets the 30% minimum for four-year university program, along with the requirement for work terms to be in more than one season.

Does a two-year post-graduate university program with four academic terms and two co-op work terms meet accreditation criteria if the second work term is completed after the final academic term?

Yes, the first work term meets the 25% minimum for programs of two years or less. The program will not be penalized for having a second co-op term at the end because the program meets accreditation criteria based on the first work term and therefore the timing of the second is irrelevant.

Is it possible for a co-op program to end on a work term?

College and university co-op and co-op internship programs ending with a work term are not eligible for accreditation. Accredited programs must begin and end with an academic term in order to allow for integration between co-op and academic terms, analysis of the work experience and to prepare for graduate employment.

Are there any exceptions to this rule?

Accreditation allows for individual student special circumstances such as health issues. An exception is also allowed when a program’s number of work terms exceeds the minimum requirement. The ratio of work terms to academic terms is 30%, so co-op programs with eight (8) academic terms require three (3) work terms. In such a circumstance, programs having a fourth work term may end on the final work term since it is not required for accreditation.

Taking Courses During a Work Term

Are students eligible to complete academic courses during a work term?

Co-op is based on alternating academic and work terms and therefore students may not register in full-time studies during a work term. By focusing on their responsibilities and experiences in the workplace, students have the opportunity to gain the highest value from the work term. Students may register in part-time studies during work terms if approved by their institution.

Number of Work Terms

The criteria regarding the required number of work terms imply that a minimum of three work terms is required in order for university programs to be accredited. What does this mean for a two-year college diploma program?

Programs of Two Years or Less

CEWIL Canada’s definition of co-operative education specifies that the time spent on work terms must be no less than 30% of the time spent in academic study. For co-op internships with a single work period, the same 30% rule applies.

The following was approved at the CAFCE Annual Meeting on October 29, 2015:

While the total amount of coop work experience is normally at least 30% of the time spent in academic study, for programs of two years or less, the total amount may be a minimum of 25%. For programs to meet the 25% requirement, a work term is defined as a minimum 12 weeks and/or 420 hours full-time, paid experience.

To view the updated alternating work term program length document click here.

Ending with a Work Term

Is it possible for a co-op program to end on a work term?

College and university co-op and co-op internship programs ending with a work term are not eligible for accreditation. Accredited programs must begin and end with an academic term in order to allow for integration between co-op and academic terms, analysis of the work experience and to prepare for graduate employment.

Are there exceptions to this rule?

CEWIL Canada Accreditation allows for individual student special circumstances such as a student health issues. An exception is also allowed when a program’s number of work terms exceeds the minimum requirement. The ratio of work terms to academic terms is 30%, so co-op programs with eight (8) academic terms require three (3) work terms. In such a circumstance, programs having a fourth work term may end on the final work term since it is not required for accreditation.

Length of Work Terms

To view the updated alternating work term program length document click here.

What is the minimum length required for each work term?

The length of each co-op work term is approximately equal to the length of each study term (normally calculated in four- or eight-month increments). The concept behind this requirement is that the amount of time spent working is sufficient to give the student time to learn and make a contribution, similar to what an academic term provides.

While accreditation criteria stipulate a minimum of twelve (12) weeks are required for each work term, individual institutions may establish their own policy requiring work terms of a longer duration.

Remuneration

How is remuneration defined for accreditation?

While remuneration may not always be a wage, most students should be paid an hourly or weekly rate of at least minimum wage during their work terms. Room and board, a stipend, an award or a scholarship may be alternative forms of payment, particularly for an international work term. Volunteer work terms are considered only on an exceptional basis (rather than routinely approved) and must be treated the same as paid positions and meet all other criteria.

Formal Work Term Report

A formal written work term report is required for at least one work term. Is this essential for accreditation?

One formal report is the minimum requirement, in order for students to demonstrate the learning that has taken place during a work term and for the institution to evaluate such learning.

Crediting Previous Work Experience

Can previous work experience count as a valid work term?

According to accreditation guidelines, work experience must be approved as suitable by the institution. In addition, a work term report and evaluation are required components, along with a preceding academic term. Some institutions allow students to transfer from another university or college and will recognize previous work terms that were approved by their previous institution, particularly if the program is accredited. If previous work term experience is recognized, it is usually for a maximum of one or two (2) work terms.

Academic Work

Are students eligible to complete academic courses during a work term?

The concept of alternating academic terms and work terms means a student should not be registered as taking courses full time during a work term. This will encourage maximum focus in the workplace and thereby the student will gain the highest value from the work term. Students may register in courses as a part-time student during work terms.

Work Term Seasons

What is the rationale for requiring co-op work terms to be scheduled during more than one season of the year?

The criteria stipulates: Co-op work terms occur in different seasons to ensure exposure to the work environment at different times of the year; any exceptions to this rule must clearly show that the type of work is seasonal in nature.

Scheduling work terms in more than one season is important so that students can be exposed to real differences in demand, the nature of the work and priorities throughout the year.

The alternating sequence of a co-op program provides for a year-round commitment by the institution and the employer. For employers it means a continuous year-round work force; for institutions it means full use of space, facilities and faculty/staff.

There are programs which may be constrained by factors such as climate, location, nature of the business etc., where a work term can only be offered on a seasonal basis. An applicant should be able to demonstrate (perhaps through government employment data) that career opportunities for graduates within these fields are restricted due to seasonal conditions. Golf-course management and specialized construction programs are two examples where an exemption may be considered.



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