On Campus

Ontario enrolment crunch needs back-to-basics university

Report suggests undergrad-only and low-research university, “open” online school

To absorb an anticipated 25,000 new university students over the next 15 years, Ontario should considering creating new types of post-secondary institutions, including an undergraduates-only, low-research university and an “open” online university, according to the province’s advisory council on higher education.

In its Feb. 13 report, titled Degrees of Opportunity: Broadening Student Access by Increasing Institutional Differentiation in Ontario Higher Education, the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario looks at the province’s various options for dealing with a massive influx of university students in the province.

The study concludes that the province’s higher education system could benefit from an “open university” that would allow students to combine credits from various institutions, as well as encouraging universities to open “satellite” campuses in the Greater Toronto Area.

The report, prepared by Glen Jones and Michael Skolnik, two professors at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto, also recommends the province consider starting a new Toronto-based undergraduate university that would focus on arts and science, and suggests that community colleges be allowed to offer a larger range of degrees.

According to the authors, growing interest in post-secondary education, paired with an increase in new Canadians, has fuelled demand for more spots in universities and colleges in the province.

However, the report says Queen’s Park should avoid starting any full-service universities, designing a new breed of “polytechnic” institutions for higher-level technical learning, or letting community colleges offer the first two years of four-year university programs, which is common in Western Canada and the United States.

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