Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Center for the Advancement of Education


Dr. George M. Barton


Accessibility has become a major problem in Canadian postsecondary education. The phenomenal and continued growth in student enrolment over the past twenty-five years has placed the concept of universal access in peril. Of particular concern in the Province of Manitoba is the restricted access to community colleges. In this research project, the problem is assessed and information is provided to support planning and social policy development. Seven research Strategies were used in the design to generate and to verify the data. A multiply triangulated social survey was conducted to: (1) identify the major factors, policies, and practices affecting accessibility to community colleges. (2) develop public policy options for increasing postsecondary access, and (3) recommend changes to institutional, organizational, and legislative constituencies for the enhancement of postsecondary accessibility in the Province of Manitoba. Stratified sampling of specific populations enabled approximately one thousand individuals to participate in the study. Data were collected and synthesized by cost effective group processing techniques and were subsequently verified through documentary analysis of secondary data. The public perceived the barriers to access to be academic, financial, political, programmatic, and structural. Sixteen issues were identified as major causal factors contributing to restricted access. They were: (1) academic preparation and entrance requirements, (2) testing, (3) credit and transferability. (4) program quality, (5) standards of instruction, (6) delivery methods, (7) exit requirements, (8) use of resources and space, (9) attrition and retention, (10) student financial aid services, (11) federal training purchases, (12) international training contracts, (13) mission and mandate, (14) community access and composition of the student population, (15) community services, and (16) marketing. The major source of the problem appeared to be political and structural, with community colleges operating as direct branches of the provincial government. Although the short range planning has been adequate, no strategic planning of social policy, according to provincial goals, appears to have been undertaken. Basic approaches to social policy planning are discussed and options are delineated for governmental allocation of funding according to identified priorities. The selection of specific options will determine whether postsecondary education investments emphasize prevention, intervention, or correction. Also discussed are the implications of each of the options for the province's future. The policies and actions by which other pertinent groups can improve access are also described: most are contingent, however, upon enactment of fundamental changes by the government. Strategic policy planning, consistent mission, and funding stability are essential for the colleges. The Department of Education can show leadership by coordinating and articulating postsecondary education in the province, and by devising and revising policies of college governance, admission, international training, student financial aid, and community access. The past deferred maintenance of human resources has to be addressed as an initial priority for improving access and quality of training and programs. Competency-based training and distance learning can be adopted, in stages, as expertise and funding permit. The Post-Secondary, Adult, & Continuing Education Division can emphasize curriculum and instruction, integrate and coordinate learning support services, and address marketing as a germinal facet of access. Each community college can immediately implement the recommendations made for its specific circumstances. The sixteen recommendations, in toto, comprise a long range action plan for remedying the major and identified problems of community college accessibility. Implementation, by and at the legislative, organizational and institutional levels, will increase quality and accessibility in the community colleges, and will improve public access to postsecondary education and training throughout the Province of Manitoba.

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