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The Globe's biweekly business-school news roundup.

A simpler, smoother path awaits business diploma students in Ontario who switch from one provincial college to another, under a new system-wide agreement announced this week.

The hope, say college officials, is that students will be able to save time and money when, for family, financial or other reasons, they transfer between institutions to complete their diploma.

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"We haven't been doing what we should to make it easier," says Seneca College president David Agnew, who is also chairman of Colleges Ontario. The agreement is the first of its kind for the 24-college provincial system, he says, adding, "It is not an exaggeration to say this is an historic moment for us."

In the past, a transfer request could take weeks or months as officials at the receiving college evaluated the transcript of an incoming student. Now the process will be almost automatic (students still must register with the Ontario College Application Service) because, after more than a year of analysis by faculty, colleges recognize the academic similarity of each other's programs.

The agreement applies to students in accounting, business administration, human resources and marketing programs, with those transferring at the end of first and second year eligible for full credit on completed courses.

"This is very significant for students," says Mr. Agnew. "It is something they have been asking for."

Business is the top transfer program among 21,500 students who shift annually between Ontario postsecondary institutions.

"We didn't do this to encourage transfers," says Mary Pierce, chair of the committee of college business school deans for Colleges Ontario. "We did it to make sure they [students] can do it quickly with minimum disruption and without a loss of academic progression."

Beyond switching between colleges, some students may choose to transfer to those with so-called articulation agreements with nearby universities.

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"You might see more students progressing from diplomas to degrees," predicts Ms. Pierce, also chair in London, Ont., of the Lawrence Kinlin School of Business at Fanshawe College, which has articulation agreements with the nearby University of Western Ontario. "We have made it easier to them [students] to aspire to the next level of their postsecondary education should they desire it."

Bank donation takes aim at IT gender imbalance

Women account for less than 25 per cent of skilled professionals in information and communications technology, a gender imbalance that is a source of concern to industry leaders.

In one response, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce has announced $500,000 over four years for two separate awards at the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University in Toronto for female students in the male-dominated field of business technology management.

Up to 12 full-time female undergraduates who enter the IT management program at Rogers with an 85 per cent Grade 12 average and who show leadership potential could be awarded $5,000 each, renewable annually for four years. With the same prerequisites, another CIBC scholarship pays $4,000 each to two students (one must be female) in the school of accounting and finance, as one-time awards.

"Innovation is top of mind for CIBC," says Kevin Patterson, the bank's senior executive vice-president for technology and operations. "We continue to need high-calibre talent sourcing from these schools to help us [make] progress [on] the innovation agenda."

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Moreover, he says, "We are a gender diverse organization and we also believe we need females in this area to make sure we get everyone's point of view as we move an innovation or technology agenda forward."

Since many CIBC customers are female, he asks: "Why shouldn't we have a female point of view in how we design things?"

Two-thirds of CIBC staff are female, with a higher percentage of women working in IT at the bank compared to the industry average, according to a bank spokesman.

The bank donation is "an amazing thing," says Sarah Fadl, a third-year business technology management student and president of the Women in Information Technology Management student club. She hopes the awards signal the capabilities of females in a sector dogged by gender stereotypes, even for her generation.

"The males tend to feel women are not capable of this complicated computer language," says Ms. Fadl. "Yes, it is complicated but it doesn't mean that it is impossible for us to do it." She recently won an award for high academic achievement in a second-year course on systems analysis and design.

Earlier this month, three female business technology students and two accounting and finance students at Rogers received their CIBC awards.

Health industry scholarship announced

An annual scholarship of $7,000 for a second-year MBA student in health industry management has been announced by York University's Schulich School of Business in Toronto.

The award, timed for the 10-year anniversary of the school's health industry specialty MBA, is named for J. Mark Lievonen, president of Sanofi Pasteur Ltd., and past chair of the board of Rx&D Canada's Research-Based Pharmaceutical Companies.

With $25,000 each from the two companies and Mr. Lievonen, York University will match the annual income generated by the contributions to create an endowment valued at $150,000, according to a York press release.

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Contact Jennifer at jlewington@bell.net.

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