Sudbury·Audio

'2 years of us working hard go to waste': Students in limbo after Collège Boréal program accreditation pulled

The career plans of some Collège Boréal students who were expecting to graduate this spring are on hold after a program's accreditation was pulled by the Ontario Association of Veterinary Technicians.

The school is appealing the decision by the Ontario Association of Veterinary Technicians

Gabrielle Venne has just a few weeks left in her veterinary technician studies in Sudbury, Ont., at Collège Boréal, but is now doubting her career prospects after the program lost its accreditation. (Erik White/CBC )

The career plans of some Collège Boréal students who were expecting to graduate this spring are up in the air after a program's accreditation was pulled by the Ontario Association of Veterinary Technicians.

Gabrielle Venne is among about 20 students in Sudbury who have a few more classes remaining this school year, but she's finding it difficult to get through them. 

"We keep going, but for what? It's very demotivating," she said.

Collège Boréal has several Ontario campuses serving the Francophone community. The veterinary care technicians' program is offered in Sudbury and Ottawa, where 18 students are enrolled. Graduates earn a diploma.

But because the association recently pulled the accreditation, students won't be able to write the national competency exam. 

The exam isn't essential to work in the field, but Venne said many veterinary clinics in northern Ontario require it for new applicants.

"Already with COVID, it's making things hard for us to get a job. And now that just really cuts down our chances by a lot," said Venne.

"That's two years of us working hard in this program go to waste."

The association says the programs failed to meet "standards of accreditation" and that it is working with Collège Boréal on "next steps."

The college says it is working on an appeal. 

'It was a complete shock. We were completely surprised when we heard of this," said vice-president academic Lyne Michaud. 

Collège Boréal veterinary technician students treated dogs and cats at the on-campus SPCA shelter this past year, but didn't have much contact with larger farm animals. (Jenifer Norwell/CBC)

She said the accreditation was revoked for several reasons, following an evaluation process done virtually because of the pandemic.

The veterinary technician association was concerned only about 30 per cent of Boréal graduates went on to write the national exam in recent years, added Michaud.

As well, the association cited students' lack of hands-on experience with large farm animals this past year, something Michaud said was difficult to do because of COVID restrictions.

She also believes some of the information was lost in translation, as Boreal's program documents were written exclusively in French.

But Michaud is hopeful a solution can be found for all the students involved.

Venne hopes she and her classmates will be allowed to write the exam, but is worried for first-year students and others thinking of enrolling in a veterinary technician program.

"You're not going to be looking at Boréal any more, which sucks because it's a great school and a great program."

Just weeks away from graduating, some northern Ontario college students are finding out that their diploma might not help them get a job after their program lost its accreditation. That's what happening to veterinary technician students at College Boréal in Sudbury. We heard from a student in the program and a spokesperson for the college. 6:10

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Erik White

journalist

Erik White is a CBC journalist based in Sudbury. He covers a wide range of stories about northern Ontario. Connect with him on Twitter @erikjwhite. Send story ideas to erik.white@cbc.ca

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