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Ontario must establish three-year degree programs at colleges

2012-10-04

(TORONTO) – The Ontario government must permit colleges to offer three-year degrees, says a submission to the government from the province’s 24 colleges.

“Giving colleges the authority to offer three-year degrees will provide an important new option to students,” said Linda Franklin, the president and CEO of Colleges Ontario.

The 26-page report says colleges should have the authority to offer new three-year degrees and to convert some of the three-year diploma programs to degree programs. The report says many of the colleges’ three-year programs already meet the province’s standards for baccalaureate education.

“In most of the world, a student completing the same program would graduate with a degree,” Franklin said. “It’s time to elevate higher education in Ontario to international standards and give colleges the authority to offer three-year degrees.”

The recommendation is part of the Ontario colleges’ submission to government, Empowering Ontario: Transforming Higher Education in the 21st Century, which calls for important changes to the delivery of post-secondary education.

The report says many students are interested in the career-focused programs at colleges but they want a degree rather than a diploma. As well, research has found employers in Canada and internationally put a higher value on a degree. The report also calls for colleges to get the authority to rename four-year degree programs at colleges as honours programs.

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.

“We must ensure all programs are effective and valued,” Franklin said. “We must seize this opportunity to transform higher education to create the best-educated, best-prepared workforce in the world.”

The full report, Empowering Ontario: Transforming Higher Education in the 21st Century, is available online at www.collegesontario.org.

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