Welcome to the Co-op Fee Comprehensive Review page. This space is a growing and changing project page dedicated to providing you with the most accurate up-to-date information about your co-op fee.
Co-op at Waterloo is funded by a student co-op fee (you can see the whole breakdown below). Every year, the fee is reviewed in alignment with projected future costs, determining whether or not an increase is needed. Factors such as enrolment, cost-of-living increases or additional resources can influence the projected budget and co-op fee.
Throughout this project, Co-operative Education is committed to:
- Examining student questions concerning the undergraduate co-op fee
- Providing transparency on your co-op fee and how it is spent
The 2019/2020 co-op fee recommendation being submitted to the Board of Governors is a 0% fee increase to the existing $729 co-op fee. This is recommended given the existing and forecasted budget and has been determined to be the most fiscally responsible use of student funds. Formal approval of 2019/2020 co-op fee will be on the agenda at the Board of Governors meeting on Tuesday, February 5, 2019.
What you need to know about the proposed fee
- The 0% increase is based on a comprehensive financial analysis which reflects the use of grant money to offset project costs and staff vacancies in the prior year’s budget
- The 0% increase will still allow CE to maintain its existing levels of service and complete planned projects such as the student experience review
- The 0% increase in the 2019/2020 co-op fee is a one-year decision made possible under the current circumstances of the financial analysis
- A similar financial analysis will be done for the 2020/2021 co-op fee to determine if a fee increase is warranted
- A 0% increase this year does not mean a larger than normal co-op fee increase in future years, in line with other University cost increases
- The Co-op Fee Comprehensive Review Project work is separate from the fee setting process
For a more detailed breakdown of how the co-op fee is determined and set each year, visit our FAQ page. If you have any questions about this process, contact our project team. Stay tuned for more information as we work through this timeline!
In December 2017, the project team began brainstorming and developing the first draft of a “current state analysis” document that would summarize what we know about the co-op fee. The goals of this analysis were to:
- Understand and document the current regulatory environment for co-operative education in Canada
- Understand the current structure of the University of Waterloo’s co-op fee
- Understand Co-operative Education’s current funding sources
- Produce a summary of the co-op fee model using current financial data
- Form preliminary documentation of issues within the current state
This current state analysis summary is now complete with a snapshot of the above topics. To read this summary, visit the Co-op Fee Review: Phase 1 Final Report Summary.
In spring 2018, the project team conducted student surveys and focus groups to better understand student perspectives on the co-op fee.
We heard from over 3,250+ students who completed the survey, and hosted seven focus groups to dive further into their feedback.
Now, the results are in! Student survey has been analyzed to identify key takeaways summarized in the Co-op Fee Review: Phase 1 Final Report Summary.
After more than a year of work on this comprehensive review, we have worked through our original project scope and are now looking toward the future.
We’re happy to announce that there are a number of items that have already been acted upon or are currently in progress, as well as some that require further investigation in consultation with other campus stakeholders.
For a more comprehensive summary of what’s to come, visit the Co-op Fee Review: Phase 1 Final Report Summary.
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Our project team has worked to find the clearest way to break down your fee. It's not as simple as looking at individual units and their budgets, as many of our staff members work to support different areas of co-op. For example:
- A person in a communications role provides communications support across a variety of categories - they may spend 15% of their time on the co-op employment process, 15% on employer relationship management, 25% on faculty and institutional relations and 45% on new business.
- A co-op career advisor, on the other hand, would spend 100% of their time working on student advising, support and programming for students preparing for their first work term.
- For more information on how the Co-operative and Experiential Education portfolio is structured, visit our organization chart on Waterloo’s secretariat website.
We've taken into account every role and expense funded by your co-op fee and sorted them into seven distinct categories of work/costs - take a look at the budget breakdown below and see where your $729 went this past year.
Your $729 co-op fee
We've taken into account every role and expense funded by your co-op fee and sorted them into seven distinct categories of work/costs below. We are working to show how much of your co-op fee supports each work category.
Co-op employment process - $59
In fall 2017, there were almost 14,000 interviews in the first ten days of the first interview round. That’s a 15 percent increase in interviews (including in-person, phone and web-based) over last year. On a single day in October, there were more than 1,700 interviews.
Every term, our co-op program grows. With so many students and employers, it's critical that the core employment process functions as planned. Some key areas that are supported with this funding include:
- setting up WaterlooWorks prior to the start of term, making sure it's ready for the incoming users
- approving jobs and validating which clusters/levels they belong to
- scheduling 65,000+ interviews each year
- facilitating interview day services, including all the support for both students and employers (i.e. paging desk)
- running the rank/match process and communicating the results to students and employers
Student advising, programming, resource development - $189
Student success is critical to co-op, and student advising is an important part of that process. Student advising includes, among other things:
- support for all students while on any work term, first through last
- resource design and development that targets the changing and emerging needs and challenges of students in diverse situations
- additional support for first work term students through the Centre for Career Action (i.e. résumé critiques, mock interviews, career advising, in-house and custom workshops)
- full consults, which are typically face-to-face visits, for: any students at a new employer, students on their first or second to last work term, or if it is determined a student needs a full consult based on their eCheckin responses
- a focus on student success on their recruiting term from the beginning of term until employment
We know that 26% ($4.9 million) of our operating budget goes to co-op student advising, programming, and resource development expenses. We’ve broken this down even further:
- 6% ($1.1 million total, $41 per student) goes toward specialized student support
- includes pre-first work term programming and international advising
- 14% ($2.7 million total, $101 per student) goes toward work term support and advising
- all first work term and second-to-last work term students get an on-site visit
- first time employers get an on-site visit
- provide support and help for students and their supervisors who have issues to work through
- 6% ($1.1 million total, $41 per student) goes toward general recruiting term support
- this includes students who are off-campus for any reason (such as on an exchange)
Employer relationship management - $102
With student enrolment growth comes a higher number of employer relationships. In 2017 we had over 6,900 active employers. Many of the best employers in the world hire from Waterloo, and many hire over and over again. St. Joe's Hospital just hired thirty-five Waterloo students in the fall 2017 term to help transition to a fully digital hospital.
Last year we were named #1 in Canada for employer partnerships, and #4 in the world (QS graduate employability rankings). Nurturing employer relationships is crucial to the success of our co-op program. To maintain this level of employer partnership, this funding supports:
- working with employers to understand their hiring needs
- facilitating info sessions for employers to attract students
- monitoring jobs throughout the process to ensure they are moving toward a hire
Faculty and institutional relations - $22
Academic programming is very much aligned with the co-op program, and communication between faculties and co-op is integral. Co-op must maintain strong relationships within the faculties to support 120+ co-op programs. This funding helps support:
- feasibility studies for new co-op programs
- program reviews for existing co-op programs
- liaising and strengthening relationships across each of the six faculties and other campus institutions
New job development - $82
The University's employer network stretches across 60+ countries. In 2017, Waterloo onboarded more than 1,400 new employers. Our business development team connects face-to-face with prospective employers at hundreds of events, trade shows and meetings across North America each year.
New business is a priority to ensure the growth of Waterloo co-op. This funding supports:
- increasing the number of students hired as well as diversity of programs employers hire from
- onboarding of new employers - this includes coaching on funding opportunities, program options, hiring procedures and effective student coaching/evaluation
- using a research-based approach to explore prospective employers and industries
Infrastructure and administration - $129
Last year, more than one million co-op job applications were processed by WaterlooWorks. This led to 67,500+ interviews and 19,100 work terms. The infrastructure and administration supports all five of the previously listed areas of work. This funding supports:
- technical support for posting, interviewing and hiring
- WaterlooWorks licensing and maintenance
- management and administration
- process improvement, pilots, and new program development
- external relations (e.g. association work, delegation representations)
University central costs - $146
University central costs account for our department’s continuous access to centralized resources and services on campus. This includes overheads such as management of building and space costs (Plant Operations), employee benefits (Human Resources), access to university technology networks and tech supports (IST) and more.
These central costs are automatically deducted by the university and are not considered part of the operating budget of the co-op program.
The University of Waterloo has more co-op students than Canada's next two largest post-secondary co-op institutions - combined.
In fact, about one-third of all university co-op work terms across Canada are filled by Waterloo students.
With increased size and diversity comes increased complexity. There are 150 full-time ongoing staff members that make the University of Waterloo co-op program possible. There are also contract and casual staff that support the co-op process for special projects and at peak times each term.
For more information and metrics around co-op, visit our 2018 Annual Report.
What we have heard from students
Here are some of the themes and findings we've heard from students throughout this stage of the project:
- You want a better understanding of what the co-op fee is, and why you pay it.
- Feedback and questions received by the Comprehensive Review team are being answered and posted on the FAQ page as the project progresses.
- You want the $729 co-op fee broken down - It should be easy to see what the co-op fee covers.
- The fee review website has been updated with a visual breakdown of a single co-op fee installment which shows how the fee is allocated to each resource category.
- You want to better understand and even be involved in the process for how the co-op fee is set each year.
The current process for setting the co-op fee is outlined on the FAQ page. You've told us that students desire more involvement in the fee-setting process. In our next project phase, we will look at how student voices can be more involved in communications around the fee-setting process.
- You want more clarity on when you pay the co-op fee based on your academic program.
- Information on co-op fee schedules per program is available in our FAQ. As this project moves forward into the next phase, we are looking for student insight to inform our next recommendations.
We will be looking at when and how students are finding out about their co-op fees for their academic programs during the next project phase after consultations.
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