Ontario Government Launches Consultation on University Reform

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On Thursday, June 28, 2012, OCUFA President Constance Adamson and OCUFA staff met with Minister of Training, Colleges, and Universities Glen Murray. The purpose of the meeting was for the Minister to present a discussion paper on reform to Ontario’s postsecondary sector, “Strengthening Ontario’s Centres of Creativity, Innovation and Knowledge: A discussion paper on innovation to make our university and college system stronger“. Minister Murray also outlined a consultation process on the discussion paper which will take place throughout the summer of 2012, in which OCUFA will participate.  The proposals contained within the paper roughly correspond to ideas floated by the government over the past few months. These ideas include increased credit transfer, ideas to ‘increase efficiency’ (three-year degrees and year-round programming), online/technology enhanced learning, and experiential education.
In addition to being somewhat vague (normal for a discussion paper of this kind), it should be stressed that none of these proposals are active policies for implementation. Rather, they are ideas that the Minister wishes to explore through the consultation process. It appears that the government has backed away from the prescriptive nature of previous reform announcements. For example, instead of “60 per cent of undergraduate education online”, the government seems more interested in expanding online options without forcing institutions or students to use them. Likewise, the proposal to create three-year degrees has been modified to suggest that a renewed three-year option be offered alongside traditional four year programs as an additional student option.
Despite this more exploratory stance, OCUFA continues to have significant concerns with many of these proposals, and will work hard to ensure the faculty perspective will be clearly heard throughout the consultation process.
The Minister indicated that a series of roundtables will be held on the discussion paper, including four half day sessions in the GTA and full day sessions in the north, east and west of Ontario. Each stakeholder group is also invited to provide a written submission, and OCUFA plans to take full advantage of this opportunity. The roundtables have not yet been scheduled. Once we have more information, we will be in contact to provide the latest details and coordinate our participation.
Many of you are also aware that the Minister met with the University Presidents on Wednesday, June 27, 2012. The purpose of the meeting was again to introduce the discussion paper and the consultation process. In addition, the Minister asked each executive head to consult with students, staff, and faculty on their campuses to establish “institutional priorities” that will be part of the new Multi-Year Accountability Agreements (MYAAs).
The complete discussion paper can be downloaded at:

This article originally appeared in the OCUFA Report. To receive stories like this every week in your inbox, please subscribe.

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