The Humber College and Seneca transfer program provides greater access to world-class education and helps both institutions meet the needs of today’s labour market.
In today’s highly competitive world, joining with others – even a traditional, yet friendly, competitor – can actually be the key to creativity, innovation and success.
This was the idea behind the Humber-Seneca Polytechnic Partnership (HSPP), which promotes cooperation between the two post-secondary institutions to provide students with greater access to world-class learning opportunities.
“We wanted to leverage each other’s strengths and find ways to collaborate for the benefit of our students and the benefit of our two institutions,” said Chris Whitaker, President of Humber College.
With Ontario-based campuses in Toronto, York Region, Peterborough, and Orangeville, Seneca and the Humber offer a total of 46 honours bachelor’s degrees, 91 graduate certificates and 55 advanced diplomas, in addition to diploma, certificate, and apprenticeship opportunities in hundreds of programs to more than 150,000 full- and part-time students each year.
Partnership built on mutual respect
A core part of their collaboration is offering transfer pathways that allow students to get credit for courses completed at one institution when switching to another. The institutions announced their partnership in 2018 with a pathway from Seneca’s graphic design diploma to Humber’s creative advertising honours degree and from Humber’s computer programmer diploma to Seneca’s software development honours degree. The HSPP now offers more than 200 pathways.
Transfer pathways are common between colleges and universities, making this partnership between two colleges rare, explained Seneca President David Agnew. “This is certainly the most comprehensive partnership between two colleges I’ve seen in the country,” he said. “And it builds on a sense of mutual respect for each other’s strengths.”
In addition to transfer pathways, the colleges have saved more than $1 million through joint procurement contracts for security services and waste management. They also collaborate in other areas, such as faculty professional development and Indigenous student services.
Further, they have partnered with Global Innovation & Skills Development Canada to develop an entrepreneurship incubation hub in Maldives, which will provide business coaching and mentorship for local youth, funded by the World Bank. Seneca set up the strategic direction, policies, and procedures for the hub while a professor in Humber’s Interior Design program designed the space, along with two Humber students.
Smarter use of resources through collaboration
Both institutions have also committed to consulting each other before designing new programs to avoid duplication and to identify potential pathways. “It is expensive to build new programs, so we thought we should collaborate for a more effective use of development funds,” said Whitaker. “Then we can take those resources and spread them further to truly meet the needs of students.”
Agnew calls it a “win-win.” “People are looking for ways to stretch dollars more effectively and at the same time, students’ needs are increasing. We also need to step up resources so we can be responsive to changing labour market requirements,” he said. “It just makes perfect sense that we wouldn’t keep duplicating our resources and we could collaborate to work more effectively, make those dollars go further and create more opportunities for students.”