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By Ali Zafar

Fifth-year Chemical Engineering student Rachel Kwan won’t be graduating this year.

This is in spite of the fact she has paid nearly $2,000 over five years to Ryerson’s co-op office for help finding a placement. “It’s frustrating,” said Kwan, who’s still just one placement short of the three required to graduate.

“Even though I’ve completed all my courses, I’m missing just that one co-op. Now I can’t graduate with the rest of my friends.”

Students in the five-year program aren’t getting their placements–they say Ryerson isn’t looking hard enough to place them. Director of the co-op office John Easton acknowledged that “there have been two or three students who didn’t graduate,” but added that “usually it’s their own doing.”

But students like Kwan won’t buy that explanation. Of the two co-ops she completed, Kwan found one position on her own. Over the course of the program, combined fees going to the Co-operative Education and Internship office amount to $1,875–yet money is not returned to students if they don’t get positions.

David Cerone, who is also in his fifth year, said he’s annoyed that he’s forced to pay $375 a year for co-op help from Ryerson, only to end up having to find his own jobs anyway. “I’ve come across companies that say we hire chemical engineering students. How come we don’t see any of these positions coming from Ryerson’s postings?” said Cerone.

Part of the problem seems to be the shortage of co-ops available, said Kwan. There are currently 120 Chemical Engineering students applying for summer positions, but only six are currently open.

About seven placements are added each week, according to Easton. For fifth-year student Boris Ivankovic, the lack of co-ops was challenging, especially when he tried to obtain his first position.

“You’re competing with upper-year students for the few positions offered,” he explained.

Ivankovic still hasn’t been able to get his final placement, but he took a professionally related elective course, which is regarded as a co-op equivalent.

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