Ontario universities building on their success

TORONTO, Feb. 12, 2013 /CNW/ - Ontario universities welcome the opportunity to discuss recommendations regarding the future of postsecondary education, as outlined in a paper released today by Ontario's Progressive Conservatives.

The paper suggests that Ontario's colleges and universities need to enhance their partnerships that allow students to move successfully through the higher education sector, and prepare them for success in life and the job market. Universities welcome this recommendation and are already deeply engaged in improving these pathways for students.

"Ontario universities are proud of the hundreds of partnerships we've already forged with Ontario's colleges. We are building on our record of success and are engaged in new initiatives that bode well for the future," says Alastair Summerlee, Chair of the Council of Ontario Universities (COU) and President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Guelph.

Today, over 500 credit transfer arrangements exist between Ontario's universities and colleges. Institutional strategic mandate agreements submitted to government last fall outlined new initiatives that are underway, and being planned, to help students streamline their studies between colleges and universities and to transfer credit more easily. Additionally, the new Ontario Council on Articulation and Transfer (ONCAT), has over 60 projects underway that involve new bridging programs to help students move from one educational stream to another. In addition, ONCAT is creating a more robust website to help students understand the pathways that are available.

"Ontario universities are focused on preparing students for success in many other ways as well, including reviewing academic programs, designing curriculum with specific learning outcomes, and increasing online and technology-enabled learning," Summerlee adds. Universities are meeting the needs of students by offering a wide variety of four-year programs, and all but four universities offer three-year degrees.

"It is important that we do not lose sight of the university's mission to broaden the minds of this future generation of leaders - in this ever-changing global environment, students want skills that prepare them for life, whatever they choose to do," says Bonnie M. Patterson, COU President and CEO. "Universities are not only preparing students for the jobs of the 21st century, they are helping them to create their own jobs, and jobs for others, through a wide range of entrepreneurship initiatives and programs."

It's a strategy that is working. For students graduating in 2009 (the most recent data available), 87.5 per cent of students graduating from university undergraduate programs were employed full time within six months of graduation and 84.8 per cent of college graduates were successful in finding work within the same time frame.

Over the past 10 years, colleges and universities have worked hard to meet increased enrolment demand, a demand that demonstrates that students and their families understand the direct link between higher education and obtaining a good, high-paying job. Statistics show that two out of three students choose university, and they continue to apply to universities in ever increasing numbers.

"It is gratifying that university students are reporting a high level of satisfaction, and universities are experiencing higher retention rates than ever before," says Patterson. "University admission averages have held steady and are only modestly higher, despite the growth in enrolment we are experiencing. This demonstrates our continued commitment to access and that the high academic standards for entrance to university have not diminished."

"We look forward to further dialogue with all political parties on the balancing act between quality and access," Patterson adds. "It is important that future directions for the sector be founded on clear evidence of the data that underpins performance in the sector, performance which sees universities highly productive and continuously introducing innovative practices."

Quick Facts:

  • 87.5 per cent of university students that graduated from undergraduate programs in 2009 were employed full time within six months of graduation and 93.1 per cent were employed full time within two years.
  • 78 per cent of university students report that their educational experience was good to excellent.
  • Universities have a graduation rate of over 80 per cent and colleges have a rate of 65 per cent. Ontario universities have higher graduation rates than the rest of Canada and the United States.
  • Ontario universities have developed an internationally recognized Quality Assurance system for university programs.

Visit the Council of Ontario Universities website at www.cou.on.ca
Follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/CouncilofOntarioUniversities
Follow us on Twitter at @OntUniv

SOURCE: Council of Ontario Universities

For further information:

Jennifer Grass
Senior Director, Communications and Public Affairs
416-979-4341 or 416-707-6787
jgrass@cou.on.ca


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