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Sun, May 27, 2007

Sault College Encouraging Chinese Aviation School Partnership

Ontario Institution Sees Good Things In The Future

While efforts by Ontario's Sault College to partner with a Chinese aviation school remain in a holding pattern after a six-member delegation from Guangzhou Civil Aviation College toured Sault College's aviation hangar Thursday, the visit was positive.

They liked what they saw, said college Acting President Max Liedke. However, Guangzhou also wants its aviation partner to tour the Sault Ste. Marie facilities before a possible three-way partnership is created, reported the (Canadian) Sault Star.

Guangzhou would not release its partner's name and it's not known when the airline will come to Sault.

"They said they were very impressed with the facilities we had," said Liedke. "They look forward to, and welcome, the opportunity for partnership."

Guangzhou offers several air-related programs, including aircraft maintenance and air aviation logistics, but does not offer a program similar to Sault College's three-year aviation technology-flight course.

"There are huge demands for pilots," said Li Shaolin, director of foreign affairs. "We want to contribute a little bit to this need."

Any articulation agreement Sault College would seek would include flight training in Canada.

Guangzhou has 5,800 students. Sault College has 2,300 post-secondary students, with a total student population, including all program categories and part-time evening students, of 9,000.

Two dozen Chinese colleges, universities, middle schools, and preparatory schools presented Liedke and vice-president, academic Judi Maundrell with 40 proposals during a city trade mission to China last month. The College has responded to two or three of those proposals.

Meanwhile, while lack of interest kept the college's long-running aircraft structural repair program from last year's catalog, overwhelming industry interest is bringing it back to Sault College this fall, according to Maundrell.

While classes will start in the fall, the college is working this summer with airlines on developing a partnership to run a southern Ontario-based program, likely to start later in the school year, Maundrell said.

The industry is clamoring for trained workers, she said.

"They are constantly calling, saying 'We need grads,' (that) they would like to hire our entire graduating class, and at the moment we don't have a class at all."

Maundrell said local interest was too low to run the program this past academic year, even though all graduates in the previous class were hired before the school year ended.

"In southern Ontario there were students going into similar programs, but we could just not seem to drum up interest in Sault Ste. Marie," said Maundrell.

"We know there is huge interest in the southern part of the province."

Sault College is one of Ontario's 24 publicly-funded colleges of applied arts and technology, often called community colleges. Sault College first opened its doors in 1965 as an Ontario Vocational Centre.



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