Open Learning needs to examine its operations
Re: (‘TRU tries to rein in default rates,’ July 28):
This article was very informative, but it only mentions Thompson Rivers University’s student-loan default rates, which were 15.5 per cent in 2006, 19 per cent in 2007 and 14 per cent in 2008, and 12.8 per cent in 2009.
It does not mention Thompson Rivers Open Learning default rates, which are alarmingly high — 28.4 per cent in 2010, 33.3 per cent in 2009 and 34.5 per cent in 2008.
What should be focused on are the questions of whether there is actually viable employment for those who take the Thompson Rivers University Open Learning courses and whether the courses and certification offered are actually in demand by employers. Further, the question needs to be asked: Will these courses lead to sustainable employment that would help reduce the student-loan default rate.
Thompson Rivers Open Learning should closely be monitoring the success rates of its courses.
However, this may not be the case.
When I was a student and I had specific questions about the success rate of a course, I was referred to a government website of statistics.
I was also reminded of a survey on its website that was available to take before enrolling in courses to find out if Open Learning was a good fit for me as an individual.
I spotted deficiencies in a course and was offered a credit, then a refund of tuition.
In the article, Christopher Seguin, TRU’s vice-president advancement, said TRU has “heavily recruited non-traditional students through open access, meaning many learners are coming to us without former academic qualifications . . . they have challenges, hence their rate of completion is not as high and it translates into the default numbers.”
Thompson Rivers University Open Learning is not a business.
It is a government-funded institution that needs to not focus on the student as the issue for high default rates, but on its policies and procedures for success.
It is a valuable resource in Kamloops, but it is a young institution and the high default rates may be a sign of growing pains and the need to review for future success.