MONTREAL — TAV College, a post-secondary institution founded more than 25 years ago to provide job training to chassidic Jews, is about to undergo a significant upgrade in its academic standing.
TAV has received approval from the education ministry to offer a pre-university health sciences program, something it has been hoping to achieve for years.
The two-year program, leading to a DEC (Diplôme d’études collégiales), has become one of the most popular in Quebec’s CEGEP system because it is seen as a gateway to many of today’s careers.
TAV educational director Eli Meroz said the demand is so high that the English CEGEPs, in particular, are turning away even qualified applicants.
TAV has been a private institution for the past four years since the Quebec government ended its funding as a public CEGEP due to its perceived religious orientation.
However, the college has accepted students from all backgrounds for years, and today Jews account for about half of a very multicultural enrolment, which was about 650 this past session.
The college is currently undergoing a $7.5-million expansion, which will more than double the size of its campus on Décarie Boulevard in Côte des Neiges, where it has been located since 2001.
TAV founder, Concordia University mathematics professor Abraham Boyarsky, wanted a larger facility to enable the college to offer more academic courses, especially science courses, as well as to accommodate a rapidly growing enrolment. Meroz expects that to reach at least 750 this year.
The new six-storey, 42,000-square-foot wing will house state-of-the-art chemistry, biology, physics and computer labs.
“Health sciences,” the name designated by the government, is a bit of a misnomer. While it is a good preparation for students looking to work in health care, it provides a grounding in all of the natural sciences.
That’s the reason TAV sought permission to offer this program rather than the pure and applied science program, Meroz said.
“The health sciences DEC opens up admission to almost any undergraduate university degree program in Quebec, whether a B.Sc., bachelor of engineering, or even a BA,” he said.
The first TAV health sciences semester is expected to start in late September and will be limited to 20 to 25 students, Meroz said, because the new building will not likely be ready until February or March. Another cohort should be admitted in the winter.
There is a lab in the old building, one that was acquired from Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf, said Meroz, which is adequate but not big enough for a larger class.
When the expansion is completed, Meroz expects the science program will be able to register 50 to 60 students a year. The tuition will be about $2,000 a year, but all students are eligible for financial aid, he stressed, and TAV has a tradition of helping students who might not otherwise be able to afford post-secondary education.
TAV has only two other DEC programs at the moment: one in early childhood education, which traditionally has been its most popular offering, and, more recently, one in arts and letters.
It also offers AEC (Attestation d’études collegiales) and other more vocationally oriented programs, such as office systems and accounting, language intervention and international trade.
While TAV welcomes everyone, it continues to accommodate the specific needs of chassidic Jews and encourages them – both men and women – to obtain the education needed for the marketplace.
One successful program has been Springboard to Science, a one-year makeup course for those who do not have the high school prerequisites for CEGEP (as is often the case with those coming from Orthodox schools where secular studies is limited) or mature students, whose high school science education is outdated.
Priority is being given to these students for the new health sciences program, Meroz said.