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College presidents from China get some Canadian exposure

Picture of Vocational Education Leadership Training (VELT) program graduation

A group of 22 high-level Chinese college executives visited Centennial College in late November as part of the eighth annual Vocational Education Leadership Training (VELT) program that invites college leaders from China to come and learn how their counterparts in Canada deliver vocational education.

The VELT agreement, signed between Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan) and the China Education Association for International Exchange, paved the way for participants to examine “leadership in action” through the demonstration of best practices and strategies that Canadian college leaders employ in advancing experiential learning in the post-secondary education system.

This year’s group of participants toured college facilities and heard about unique approaches to teaching and learning in a wide variety of disciplines. They were impressed by the close association Centennial has forged with employers, especially those related to the college’s many apprenticeship and cooperative education programs.

As one dignitary noted through an interpreter, the group was “amazed” at how much emphasis Centennial places on hands-on learning through apprenticeship and co-op education. In addition, employers’ active participation in Centennial’s program advisory committees demonstrated to the visiting dignitaries that the college values employer input in curriculum design to ensure graduates attain job-ready skills and knowledge.

The Chinese executives visited four distinct institutions as part of this year’s itinerary, including the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) and Bow Valley College, both in Calgary, and Georgian College in Barrie, Ontario, in addition to Centennial’s Progress Campus. Centennial is the only college nationwide that has hosted VELT visitors every year since the program was established in 2010.

The entire tour took three weeks, with the group returning to China on December 1 – but not before being recognized by Centennial at a small graduation ceremony on November 30, where participants were given certificates of completion. The group also had the opportunity to visit Niagara Falls and the CN Tower in downtown Toronto.