Guidelines for Co-operative Education Programs at UBC

The following definition and approval criteria were approved by Senate on 19 May 2004.

Co-operative Education Programs at the University of British Columbia have expanded tremendously over the past ten years. The number of student work terms has increased from under 300 in 1993 to over 2000 in year 2003.

Until 2001, all Co-op programs in the province of British Columbia had to meet strict guidelines, set by the Co-operative Education Fund of British Columbia (CEFBC), under the guidance of the Ministry of Advanced Education and Technology. In 2001 the provincial government dissolved CEFBC, thus allowing individual educational institutions to establish their own Co-op guidelines. To facilitate the growth of Co-op at UBC, to help establish new Co-op programs, and to ensure that both existing and new programs meet the highest educational standards that recognize the needs of students, employers and faculty, the UBC Co-op Council (comprising of Associate VP Academic Programs, representatives of each Faculty that has a Co-op program and an AMS representative) has drafted a set of Co-op guidelines.

These guidelines, primarily based upon the previous CEFBC guidelines, are similar to the ones practiced by the other universities in British Columbia. CEFBC approved programs are offered in the Faculties of Applied Science, Arts, Commerce and Business Administration, Forestry and Science. The Faculty of Education is in the process of developing a Co-op program under these guidelines.


Co-operative Education is a partnership between students, employers and The University of British Columbia. As an educational process, co-operative education formally integrates a student’s academic studies with paid, approved, career-related work experience in participating employer organizations.

An Undergraduate Co-op Program has more than one period of full-time work experience integrated with academic studies. The number of work terms required is set by individual Faculties with no less than three (3) full-time work terms or a minimum of 30% of the total number of academic terms required to graduate with a Co-op designation (over a normal four year degree).

Graduate Co-op Program has at least one full-time work experience integrated with academic studies. The total number of work terms must normally be a minimum of 25% of the total number of academic terms.

Recognized Co-op programs at UBC must meet the following criteria:

Approval Criteria

  • The Co-op program as defined above is an integral component of the educational program, and must be approved by the UBC Senate;
  • Programs must be identified in the UBC calendar with graduation requirements specified;
  • Programs must provide pre-employment training sessions for students prior to the initial work term;
  • Programs must state procedures, standards and appropriate behavior for student work term(s);
  • The needs of employers should be taken into account in designing the work/academic sequence. Programs with more than one work term must not schedule all of the work terms in the summer months;
  • While on a Co-op work term students must enroll in a full time UBC Co-op course.
  • The total length of a work term must be a minimum of 13 weeks (or approximately 455 hours);
  • Students are to engage in productive, supervised work, not be merely observers, and are to be paid at competitive rates for their work;
  • Formal feedback and evaluation mechanisms must be established between the three parties involved – students, employers and UBC Co-op Programs. The work experience should complement the curriculum content. Specifically, formal feedback mechanisms should normally include:
    • Approval of positions by the UBC Co-op Programs as suitable learning environments, whether the positions are found by the Co-op Program or by students;
    • Supervision and evaluation of student performance by employers and discussion of the evaluations with both the students and the UBC Co-op Programs and Faculty Advisors;
    • Site visits arranged by the UBC Co-op Programs, normally conducted once per work term, to review student performance and progress. These site visits should include discussions with both students and employers;
    • Students are required to complete written and/or oral presentations at the end of each work term;
  • Work terms completed at any approved post secondary co-op program may be transferable to UBC:
    • The transferability is based on the work term(s) having been successfully completed and given credit by the institution of origin (i.e. noted on transcript);
    • The granting of transfer is given by UBC accepting the student using the regular transfer credit process;
    • The acceptance of a student for transfer from another institution having a co-op program does not guarantee acceptance into the co-op program at UBC;
    • UBC may still require that the transfer student complete additional work terms as part of his/her new program of study.
    • At UBC a council of Co-op Directors, with one student member and a member from the Provost’s Office, co-ordinates co-operative education activity.

This information is for quick reference. For the full text of the Minutes of Senate, which include the motions and discussion, please see the Minutes Archive.