Ontario universities demonstrate breadth of programs, research and economic impact in new mandate agreements

TORONTO, Aug. 7, 2014 /CNW/ - Ontario's publicly funded universities have successfully negotiated a series of mandate agreements with the province, demonstrating the distinctive opportunities they offer students, the breadth of their research and positive impact on society and the economy.

"Reading these agreements collectively, I am struck by the sheer breadth of opportunities Ontario universities make available to our students," says Max Blouw, Chair of the Council of Ontario Universities (COU), and President of Wilfrid Laurier University.

The agreements focus on the strengths of individual universities – whether it is their ground-breaking research that has local impact and global reach, innovations in teaching and learning, unique educational and research programs that relate to their communities, or efforts to remove barriers to accessibility and improve the student experience for under-represented groups. The mandate agreements also demonstrate the vast network of partnerships that universities have locally, nationally and internationally. These relationships include colleges and universities, community organizations, various levels of government and businesses in many different industries. 

The positive impact of universities on economic development and the labour market are reflected strongly in these agreements. A very large university has estimated its annual economic impact at more than $5 billion, while a comprehensive university's impact is estimated at $2.5 billion and $150 million for a small university.

Finally, the agreements detail each university's efforts to improve the learning experience and prepare students for careers through experiential learning, entrepreneurship opportunities, online learning, international exchange programs and pathways to other institutions including colleges.

"You will see in these agreements the many ways universities are preparing graduates for careers, and how universities are hubs of innovation, entrepreneurship and job creation that are helping to build Ontario up," says Bonnie M. Patterson, COU President and CEO.

"They also show the other wonderful initiatives universities undertake including research that literally saves lives, courses and spaces that foster entrepreneurship and programs to support and enhance the campus living and learning experience for students with disabilities, Aboriginal learners and first generation students, which represent a growing part of university enrolments."

The agreements can be viewed on the Ministry's website: http://www.tcu.gov.on.ca/pepg/publications/vision/   

COU is a membership organization of 21 publicly assisted universities in Ontario. It works closely with the provincial and federal governments to shape public policies that help universities deliver high-quality programs for students and advance the research and innovation that improves the social, cultural and economic well-being of Ontarians.

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SOURCE Council of Ontario Universities

For further information: Wendy McCann, Director, Strategic Communications and Media Relations, Telephone: 416-979-2165 x233, Cell phone: 647-271-0825, Email Wendy McCann (wmccann@cou.on.ca)