In Canada post-secondary education comes in the form of universities, colleges, and private training schools.
Universities offer degree programs. An undergraduate program (bachelor 's degree) usually require four years of study. The amount of time to complete a post-graduate program (master's or doctoral degree) varies, depending on the study program.
Community colleges usually offer diploma and certificate programs which prepare people for jobs in specific occupational fields. Their programs normally last from several months to three years.
Universities and colleges also offer various short programs and courses which may last for a shorter period of time, with classes a few times a week, or once a week, often in the evening and sometimes on weekends. An adult student may want to take such a course to learn or improve a certain skill (e.g. language or computer skills), or to pursue a hobby or an interest (e.g. digital photography).
There are three publicly funded post-secondary education institutions in PEI. They are:
- University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI)
- Holland College
- Collège Acadie Î-P-É
The two colleges have multiple locations on the Island. The UPEI campus is in Charlottetown.
Holland College and UPEI both have strong support for international students, and there are many people from all over the world studying there.
Private training schools usually operate as a for-profit business. They offer post-secondary vocational training to prepare adult students for a job in a specific field of work. Some examples of these programs are: accounting and business, office administration, truck-driving, hairdressing and aesthetics, counselling, nursing home and personal care, heavy-equipment operation, etc.
Some private training schools are registered with the PEI government under the 'Private Training Schools Act', and some are not. Being registered is a good assurance that the training is up to an industry standard, and that there are measures in place to protect students in case something goes wrong and the school shuts down. However, the fact that a private school is not registered does not mean that it is substandard or unreliable.
The fact that a private training school is included in the Government of PEI listings does not mean that the government endorses the quality of the training there. Before you take a course or workshop with a private training school, registered or not, be sure to ask questions so you know what you are getting for your money.
Financial Assistance for Post-Secondary Studies
There are different kinds of financial aid that may be available to help post-secondary students with the expenses related to studies and living expenses:
- scholarships are usually based on academic achievement and/or community involvement
- bursaries and grants are usually based on financial need and do not have to be paid back
- employment benefit programs assist eligible people with some of the costs associated with attending a college program
- low interest student loans help students pay for their post-secondary studies and living expenses during their studies (repayment is usually deferred until the student finishes the educational program)
Ask your Employment Counsellor at the PEI Association for Newcomers or the financial aid advisor at the educational institution you are planning on attending about this.