What is a CEGEP?

THE CEGEPs: A NETWORK OF HIGHER EDUCATION INSTITUTIONS

  • The CEGEP network was founded in 1967. Situated in all regions of Québec and numbering 48, the CEGEPs represent the first stage of higher education. Students enter CEGEP after completing six years of elementary school and five years of secondary school.
  • A particular feature of CEGEPs is the co-existence of pre-university programs, leading to university studies, and technical career programs, which prepare students to enter the job market. Regardless of their program, students take general education courses, some of which are common to all.

A stimulating environment and source of economic development

  • CEGEPs also bustle with cultural, sports, community and socially relevant activities that contribute to the students overall education and turn some of these schools into real cultural centres of attraction in their respective regions.
  • CEGEPs play an active role in the social and economic life of their communities, particularly by providing technical support and training services to businesses and by retraining and upgrading the labour force. The CEGEPs have set up 30 collegial technology transfer centres, each one concerned with a key sector of the Québec economy, where applied research is also conducted.
  • Last, they maintain steady ties with the rest of the world through numerous cooperation projects in some 50 countries, especially in Africa, Latin America and Asia.

Guidance role

  • Over the years, the guidance role of the CEGEP network has gained importance. CEGEPs are admitting an increasing number of young people aged 16 or 17 who have not necessarily made a career choice and who must now find their way. A bridging semester serving this purpose was instituted in 1993.
  • Students consider college studies as a very important step in their education and as indispensable preparation for university.1 In other educational systems, a growing number of students regard college as a stepping stone to university. This is true in Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario, and in some states in the U.S. (Ohio, Kentucky, Florida, California, Illinois), among other places.

Minimum schooling needed

Today it is necessary for as many people as possible to have a Diplôme d’Études Collégiales (DEC) – Diploma of Collegial Studies – in order to enter a job market that is increasingly demanding about qualifications and to play their role as informed citizens in a more and more complex society.

1 According to discussion groups organized by the Fédération des cégeps in the spring of 2000.