TIMMINS, ON: Colleges Ontario, the advocacy organization for the province’s colleges has publically released their submission on post-secondary consultations to the Honourable Glen Murray, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities.
The 26-page report entitled Empowering Ontario: Transforming Higher Education in the 21st Century calls for important changes to the delivery of post-secondary education. The report recommends that colleges should have the authority to offer new three-year degrees in areas of study in demand by students, industry, communities and the economy. The report states many of the colleges’ three-year programs already meet the province’s standards for baccalaureate education. It also suggests the government develop a policy framework to support the expansion of collaborative transfer programs and other pathway partnerships between colleges and universities.
“Broadening the range of credentials that Northern College could offer would be a positive response to many of the comments we heard during the community consultation phase in the development of our new strategic plan. Granting Ontario’s college’s the authority to offer three-year degrees will assist in removing the geographic barriers to higher education in northeastern Ontario and focuses on offering students increased access to quality, affordable post-secondary education,” says Fred Gibbons, President of Northern College. This submission has the potential to help redefine the role of higher education; the first such transformation since Ontario’s colleges were established in 1967.”
Another key proposal in the submission calls for Ontario’s college sector to use its own internationally recognized Ontario College Quality Assurance Service (OCQAS) to assess and approve degrees in the sector. OCQAS will ensure there is a rigorous review process for developing and delivering degree programs. Currently, the degree-approval process is done through a provincial assessment board that is less suited to evaluate applied-education programs.
The report makes a number of other recommendations to give greater numbers of students the opportunity to pursue career training as part of their post-secondary studies. Some of the other recommendations include:
• Increase the availability of online college courses offered through OntarioLearn by 50 per cent.
• Allow colleges to offer stand-alone nursing degree programs.
• Make Ontario’s colleges responsible for most of the administration of the in-school portion of apprenticeship programs.
• Require colleges and universities to publicly report on their strategies to help students transfer among post-secondary institutions.
• Increase support for applied research in the college system.
“Northern College is excited to be at the forefront of Ontario’s post-secondary transformation. Our college will continue to establish a pre-eminent leadership position in education and training that is fluidly responsive to the needs of our students, the regional labour market, and the greater community. Our core dedication to providing access and mobility for learners has proven to be our strength, and will continue to allow for new educational paths and partnerships in the emerging creative economy,” says Gibbons.
The full report, Empowering Ontario: Transforming Higher Education in the 21st Century, is available online at www.collegesontario.org.
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