About us

Co-operative education at UVic

UVic provides students with dynamic, hands-on learning opportunities that help them make a vital, positive impact on the world. Co-op plays a major role in the UVic experience—42% of students take part in the program! Our students complete more than 4,000 work terms each year with over 1,350 employers across Canada and around the world. For employers, co-op is a fantastic tool for recruitment—many of our co-op graduates return to work full-time for their former co-op employers upon finishing their degrees.

Co-op at UVic includes all UVic faculties, with students participating in 13 co-op program areas from 47 academic departments and schools. Co-op exists for almost every program, except for those that already offer practica, internships or other work-integrated education. Co-op is mandatory for students in Business, Engineering, Health Information Science, Public Administration, Recreation and Health Education and Coaching Studies and is optional in other areas. UVic is also the largest provider of graduate co-op in Canada—more than 300 UVic graduate students participate in co-op each year at the master's and doctoral level.

CAFCE logoAll of UVic's co-op degree programs are accredited by Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning Canada (CEWIL). CEWIL’s mission is to foster and advance post-secondary co-operative education and work-integrated learning in Canada.

Career Services

In Career Services, our team serves students and alumni through one-on-one meetings, online career programs, in-person workshops and a variety of events throughout the year. Our career educators hold over 2,590 meetings with students per year through drop-in hours and appointments, and thousands of students participate in our career events and other offerings. Our online Learning In Motion portal hosts over 18,600 separate active users per year, including students, alumni, employers and community members.

UVic Co-op and Career develops graduates who achieve personal goals, excel in their chosen fields and contribute to community and society. We guide and support students as they develop competencies—knowledge, skills and attributes—that lead them to successful and rewarding careers.

Dr. Norah McRae is the Executive Director of the Co-operative Education Program and Career Services at the University of Victoria, Canada. Her involvement in co-operative and work-integrated education spans more than twenty years, over which time she has led strategic program development and research on student engagement and intercultural competency development. Her doctoral research examined conditions that enabled transformative learning during work-integrated education and led to the development of a preliminary theoretical model for learning during work-integrated education.

Norah has been published in the International Handbook for Co-operative and Work-Integrated EducationCEIA Journal and The World is my Classroom: International Learning and Canadian Higher Education. She is a faculty member for the WACE Institute for Global and Experiential Education and the WACE Assessment Institute.

UVic Co-op and Career has been recognized for its groundbreaking work in the field of work-integrated learning. The office also celebrates student and employer achievement through annual awards.

External awards - programs

  • The British Columbia Council for International Education (BCCIE) recognized Co-op and Career's CANEU-COOP Program with the Outstanding Program in International Education Award for 2016. The CANEU-COOP program uses a unique "twinning" model where UVic students travel to Austria or Germany on a four-month work term where they are paired with European students. Both students often work for the same European employer and the following term they both return to UVic, where the European student attends class. The program goes beyond other simple exchanges with the intentional development of cross-cultural competencies. Students rate themselves before, during and after on knowledge, skills and attributes such as intercultural motivation, intercultural knowledge, strategic thinking and appropriate behaviour.

External awards - students

External awards - staff

Co-op and Career awards

Each year, Co-op and Career recognizes a student from each program area who has made extraordinary contributions to his or her workplace and community. These Co-op Students of the Year receive an award and are honoured at a celebration event.

Co-op and Career also recognizes outstanding employers each year with a Co-op Employer of the Year award.

Staff award

  • Claudia Sperling was the recipient of the Co-op and Career staff award in 2017
  • Joy Poliquin was the recipient of the Co-op and Career staff award in 2016
  • Trish Twiss was the recipient of the inaugural Co-op and Career staff award in 2015

Co-op and Career is connected to many professional associations that promote co-operative education and career development at the post-secondary level.

CAFCE logoAll of UVic's co-op degree programs are accredited by the Canadian Association for Co-operative Education (CAFCE). CAFCE’s mission is to foster and advance post-secondary co-operative education in Canada.

We’re a member of the Canadian Association of Career Educators and Employers (CACEE). CACEE’s mission is to provide authoritative information, advice, professional development opportunities and other services to employers, career services professionals and students.

Many of our staff are active with the Association for Co-operative Education (BC and Yukon).

We’re a member of the World Association for Co-operative Education (WACE), an organization that strives to advance work-integrated learning through a global network.

We’re a member of the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), which connects more than 5,200 college career professionals and helps forecast trends in the job market.

Director's office

Co-op and Career provides two types of services to UVic students: career development support through Career Services and co-operative education through the Co-operative Education Program. The department as a whole is coordinated by a central Director’s Office. This office includes an executive director, director of operations, information and operations coordinator, events coordinator, communications officer, curriculum coordinator and support staff.

Co-operative Education Program

At UVic, co-op exists for almost every program, except for those that offer practicum, internships or other experiential learning.

UVic Co-op is partially centralized at the university level and partially decentralized in the academic units. Co-op coordinators, placement coordinators and co-op assistants handle the day-to day administration of their individual program areas under the direction of three program managers (one each for Business, Engineering and Computer Science, and Optional and Professional Programs), who all report to the executive director. 

Career Services

Three main Career Services offices provide support to UVic students and alumni:

  • Career Services for engineering and computer science students
  • Career Services for business students
  • Career Services for students from all other programs

A separate Law Careers office in the Faculty of Law provides career support to law students.

Business and engineering students have dedicated Career Services support because co-op is mandatory for their academic programs. Mathematics and statistics students also access Career Services from the Engineering and Computer Science Co-op and Career office.

International team

A team of international Co-op and Career staff support UVic co-op students going abroad for work terms as well as international students seeking career support at UVic.

History of UVic Co-op

In 1975, Dr. Howard Petch left the University of Waterloo to become UVic President and Vice-Chancellor. Dr. Petch brought with him an experimental new program that Waterloo had practiced since 1957: co-operative education. UVic Co-op opened its doors in 1976, pioneering the first co-operative education program in western Canada with 58 placements in its first year. It was initially offered in the Departments of Chemistry and Physics with the support of key players Dr. Alex McAuley, Dr. Harry Dosso and Dr. Graham Branton. “The popularity of the program quickly led to an increase in the number of students in physics,” recalls Dosso, “and an unexpected but welcomed increase in the number of female students.” Dr. Branton became Co-op Director in 1979 and dedicated the next 17 years to advancing the program.

Students and employers raved about co-op and by 1980, the program had expanded to include Computer Science/Mathematics, Creative Writing, Geography, Physical Education and Public Administration. Between 1980 and 1985, Coop began to place 30 per cent of students outside BC and established international exchange programs in the U.K. and Australia. By 1987–88, annual placements neared 1,000 for students in 13 program areas, and UVic had established itself as one of Canada’s forerunners in co-operative education.

Our co-op students have now completed nearly 85,000 work term placements since the program’s inception in 1976.

History of Career Services

Since the late 1960s, UVic housed a federal program called the Canada Employment Centre on campus, but when this program lost funding, the university created the Student Employment Centre (SEC). SEC, which opened in 1991, was the first iteration of Career Services.

For the first two years, SEC was staffed by simply a manager/counselor and a clerk, with some short-term staff and workstudy students. This was augmented in the summer for eight years by student staff hired under federal funding. SEC offered students job search support, summer and career job postings, employer information files, a job search library and on-campus recruitment by school districts, government, companies and other organizations.

In 1993–94, SEC moved to its current location, the Campus Services Building, and developed a target program for recentgraduates. The department hired reception and clerical staff and increased services for employers and students. The unit changed its name to Career Services in 2002 to better reflect its focus on career development.

The Co-op and Career merger

In 2009, UVic’s Co-op Program formally merged with Career Services to form the Co-operative Education Program and Career Services (Co-op and Career). The offices merged to work together in offering work opportunities and comprehensive career development services to all students and alumni.