Northern College Supports Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario’s Recommendations to Address Degree Programs at Ontario’s College

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TIMMINS, ON: Northern College supports the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario’s recommendation to create a growth plan for colleges that addresses the issue of college degree programs and urges the provincial government to act on it.

This recommendation from the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO) aligns with Northern’s proposed Strategic Mandate Agreement, which outlines the college’s commitment to maintaining and further developing its pre-eminent leadership position in providing education and training that is fluidly responsive to the needs of students, the regional labour market, and the communities it serves.

“Increasing choice and access to higher education is essential to the economic and social well-being of northeastern Ontario,” said Fred Gibbons, President of Northern College. “A lack of undergraduate education options is one of the largest factors to youth out-migration. Expanding educational offerings in the North would give those wishing to pursue undergraduate degrees the option to learn where they live and would increase the likelihood of graduates finding work in their home communities.”

Ontario colleges have been calling on the provincial government to elevate Ontario to international standards and allow colleges to offer career-specific three-year degree programs. As HEQCO says in a report released yesterday, the issue “dominates current discussion” about differentiation in the college system and must be addressed.

Many three-year programs at Ontario’s colleges are already aligned with provincial standards for baccalaureate education. Ontario is one of the few areas where colleges issue advanced diplomas rather than degrees for three-year programs. Degrees offered at colleges are typically more application based than their university counterparts. Expanding the range of degree opportunities at the college-level will help strengthen the qualifications of the province’s workforce.

“Allowing colleges to offer three-year degrees would be a significant step in promoting programs that help people find meaningful work. Employers are looking for people that have practical training to complement theoretical knowledge,” said Gibbons. “Employers are seeking workers that have experience with the specific hands-on skills and techniques that are required for a given profession. This will further our ability to train learners in areas that are in demand. We are eager to work with the government to act on this recommendation and create improved opportunities for Ontario’s students.”

Submitted to the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities in September 2013, Northern College’s Strategic Mandate Agreement highlights the college’s dedication to student success and outlines strategies to enhance education, training, and innovation in northeastern Ontario. Northern College’s Strategic Mandate Agreement, 2013 – 2014 Strategic Plan and current Business Plan can be found at


Media contact:

Crystal Bresson
Manager, Marketing and Communications
Northern College
705-235-3211 ext. 2253