UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Strategies to Advance the Relationships between Earth Science Departments and the Regulators of Professional Geoscience : Supporting Earth Science Students to Professional Geoscience Registration Nichol, Craig


Canadian provincial and territorial governments are responsible for regulating professions for the protection of the public, a task they have delegated to self-governing bodies. The knowledge assessment for professional geoscience licensure outside of Quebec is based on a common course syllabus and within Quebec on approved university programs or a different course syllabus. Post-secondary institutions have the flexibility to (1) align programs to the geoscience knowledge requirements or (2) maintain diverse programs to optimize the recruitment of students within their institutional context. Students require a knowledgeable person who can give career advice (i.e., if their career interests fall within regulated geoscience), answer questions, and go over course checklists with them. The relationship between geoscience regulators and earth science departments exists to shepherd to their entry in the profession after graduation (if they intend to practice geoscience). This study reviewed the current system that supports licensure of geoscience professionals. I then used surveys and interviews to examine better practices to improve the relationships and communication strategies between Canadian earth science departments and jurisdiction regulators to better support students. Currently, most university advising about licensure is voluntary, which means there may not be an advisor serving students’ needs. In the absence of a university-based advisor, regulator staff or volunteers must be capable of advising students. Failures to accurately advise students lead to increased costs, borne primarily by students who have to pay for additional courses and lose income. Jurisdiction governments also incur costs by way of government-subsidized tuition and lost tax revenue when students put off working to complete unmet requirements. The following are among the key takeaways: a) Universities should commit resources to advise students about licensure and create a dedicated professions advisor role. b) Regulators should recognize the requirements for communication with students and post-secondary institutions that are needed to support a syllabus model used for geoscience knowledge assessment and have funding and staffing within each jurisdiction to provide support equal to that provided for other regulated professions c) Jurisdiction governments should allocate resources to support student advising by universities and regulators as a strategy to reduce their overall costs.

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