TORONTO, April 4, 2013 /CNW/ - Ontario universities look forward to discussions with government about positive transformation of higher education that would recognize the unique role each institution plays in providing a quality learning experience for students, and improving the social, cultural and economic well-being of Ontarians.
The Council of Ontario Universities (COU) will be analyzing the implications of a report released today by the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO). In the meantime, universities remain committed to discussing their strategic plans for the future directly with the government, while exploring the most effective and collaborative ways to transform the sector.
"Ontario universities are already achieving many of the goals outlined in the HEQCO report, such as enhancing students' educational experience, measuring learning outcomes, working more collaboratively with colleges, bringing the benefits of new technologies to the classroom and expanding online learning," says Alastair Summerlee, COU Chair and President of the University of Guelph. "And the next step is to roll up our sleeves and work with government to establish an even brighter future for postsecondary students."
COU President and CEO Bonnie M. Patterson says COU would welcome a government/university working group to define a process for discussions with universities. This would include a review of appropriate ways for government to fund quality and graduate space allocations, and explore the impact of expanded college-degree granting.
"Universities take great pride in the different histories, visions, geographic locations and cultural mixes that inform how their collective missions for education, research and community engagement are addressed," says Patterson. "Universities would appreciate the opportunity to work with government to continue the differentiation path they are on, while ensuring they provide geographic access to programs that help make universities affordable for nearly 450,000 students."
Ontario has a great deal to feel proud of in terms of the return on investment in universities.
The latest statistics show that 87.5 per cent of Ontario graduates are finding employment within six months of graduation, and 93.1 per cent are employed within two years. Despite economic uncertainty, these are well-paying jobs. University graduates are earning an average of $42,403 six months after graduation, more than those with any other level of education. Within two years of graduation, 82 per cent of graduates say their work is related to the skills they gained in their university programs.
Ontario needs a highly skilled workforce to successfully address its economic challenges and to be competitive. Universities are well positioned to do their part to make Ontario stronger.
Universities have demonstrated their willingness to work with government on shared goals, and have already made significant changes in support of goals endorsed in the HEQCO report. Universities have delivered when the province has been clear about its policy goals. Universities look forward to continuing to work in partnership with the provincial government.
- Universities are preparing students for the future with rigorous academic programs, greater attention to innovation skills, increased online and technology-enabled learning, and expanded workplace learning.
- Universities have a new quality assurance framework that ensures learning outcomes are clearly defined, and employers understand the skills students have acquired.
- A consortium has been established to lead development of Ontario universities online.
- More than 500 agreements exist to help college students move more easily into university degree programs.
- The Ontario Council for Articulation and Transfer (ONCAT), which promotes mobility among postsecondary institutions, has a website highlighting transfer options and is moving forward with colleges and universities to develop more pathways for credit transfer.
- University research plays an important role in economic success. Nine Ontario universities are among the top 25 Canadian research universities, 18 are among the top 50.
- A recent report by the CIBC listed 25 occupations showing signs of a skills shortage over the next several years. Almost all those occupations require a university degree.
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 the research and innovation that improves the social, cultural and economic well-being of Ontarians.
SOURCE: Council of Ontario Universities
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