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After its deal with Saskatoon college SIIT, Edwards dean Daphne Taras says the emphasis is now on the academic and personal record of aboriginal students instead of administrative differences between institutions. (Chris Bolin for The Globe and Mail)
After its deal with Saskatoon college SIIT, Edwards dean Daphne Taras says the emphasis is now on the academic and personal record of aboriginal students instead of administrative differences between institutions. (Chris Bolin for The Globe and Mail)

BUSINESS SCHOOL NEWS

Saskatchewan schools reduce roadblocks for aboriginal business students Add to ...

The Globe’s biweekly business-school news roundup.

By 2031, up to 24 per cent of Saskatchewan residents are forecast to be of aboriginal descent, compared to 16 per cent in 2006, according to Statistics Canada. The demographic trend is sparking new initiatives by postsecondary institutions and donors in the province.

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Two separate announcements highlight efforts to address the historic under-representation of First Nation, Métis and Inuit among business studies graduates.

In one, a collaboration between the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies (SIIT), a Saskatoon-based college, and the Edwards School of Business at the University of Saskatchewan aims to smooth the path to a business degree in the province. In the other, Saskatchewan business leader Gordon Rawlinson, a long-time philanthropist in First Nation education, has donated $100,000 over the next three years for scholarships for aboriginal students at the Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology (SIAST).

Prior to the SIIT-Edwards agreement, graduates of SIIT’s two-year business diploma needed additional courses for entry to the final two years of a four-year undergraduate business degree at Edwards in Saskatoon. Rather than invest extra time and money to get into a local university, some SIIT students moved to Alberta where the University of Lethbridge recognizes their college credentials in full.

“It is difficult enough to transition from your [aboriginal] community to an urban centre and get yourself established, become successful and want to pursue higher education, SIIT president Riel Bellegarde says. “The only option we were able to provide was to leave the province, leave your family and your community and move to Lethbridge.”

The agreement, which eliminates the extra-courses requirement, reflects a “revolutionary” change in thinking, says Edwards dean Daphne Taras, with the emphasis now on the academic and personal record of aboriginal students instead of administrative differences between institutions.

Of SIIT’s two-year-diploma students, she says, “All I need to know is did they complete? Did they do well? And did they develop study skills?” To ensure a successful transition for students, the two institutions will co-operate on mentoring and other support for aboriginal students at Edwards.

Despite outreach efforts to date, the school reports that self-identified aboriginal students account for just about 6 per cent of its student body, low compared to the University of Saskatchewan overall and the provincial population.

Dr. Taras hopes to increase the proportion of qualified aboriginal students to 10 per cent of the school population over the next five years. Beyond that, she sees a looming provincial demand for aboriginal business graduates with management training.

“Right now, companies are scooping up qualified aboriginal employees and it is a wonderful thing,” she says. But without sufficient aboriginal business graduates trained in leadership, she warns that “in 15 years, when people are ready for promotion into management and senior management, there will be a glass ceiling.”

Meanwhile, the scholarship gift to SIAST from Rawlco Radio chief executive officer, Mr. Rawlinson, and his wife, Jill, will be matched by the Saskatchewan Innovation and Opportunity Scholarship, a provincial government program that encourages private-sector and community-based organizations to donate to postsecondary education in Saskatchewan.

The new scholarships, worth $1,000 a student (and up to $2,000 in some cases) and awarded after graduation, seek to increase enrolment of aboriginal students in business programs, according to a college spokeswoman. SIAST currently offers $345,000 in scholarships to aboriginal students, with the Rawlinson gift the largest to date for a business program.

Mr. Rawlinson says the changing face of Saskatchewan is one reason for his three-year pledge to SIAST.

“When we think of the future of Saskatchewan, we want this very important part of the population to be able to run businesses and be successful in businesses, whether First Nation or other businesses,” he says. “We want to do whatever we can to encourage aboriginal business students.”

Young entrepreneurs recognized

Andrew Paradi and Brandon Chow, first-year business students at Wilfrid Laurier University’s School of Business & Economics in Waterloo, Ont., won top honours this month at Canada’s Business Model Competition held at Dalhousie University’s Rowe School of Business in Halifax. The two students are co-founders of Teknically, which builds software to simplify technology tasks for small businesses. They were also featured this month in a Globe and Mail story on young entrepreneurs who launch businesses while in school.

Their win, worth $25,000 in cash and in-kind services from Deloitte, also earns them a spot in the International Business Model Competition at Brigham Young University in Utah in May.

At the Canadian competition, teams from the University of Waterloo and the University of British Columbia came in second and third, respectively.

Professor wins teaching award

Ivey Business School professor Nicole Haggerty has won an innovation award from the London-based Case Centre, a global, not-for-profit organization that promotes the case method in business education. Prof. Haggerty was recognized for her work in providing case-method instruction to business schools in four African countries.

Under her direction at Ivey in London, Ont., a select group of Ivey undergraduate business students complete an elective on case teaching and writing before going to Africa to teach a three-week introduction to business decision-making. Over the past two years, 43 Ivey students have taken part in the project that has delivered case-method training to more than 800 students in Kenya, Rwanda, Ethiopia and Ghana.

Student winners

A five-person team from the Sprott School of Business at Carleton University in Ottawa won top prize in the Network of International Business Schools Worldwide Case Competition, defeating teams from Europe, Asia and North America. In each round of the competition, students have four hours to analyze a case and prepare a 20-minute presentation for a panel of industry judges.

Canadian schools make global ranking

York University’s Schulich School of Business in Toronto and HEC Montréal placed 21st and 63rd respectively in a global ranking of MBA programs by Mexico-based Expansion magazine, a Time Warner business publication. Schools were measured for academic quality, return on investment and global value.

Follow Jennifer Lewington and Business School News by subscribing to an RSS feed here.

Contact Jennifer at jlewington@bell.net.

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