Ontario Colleges Call for Three-Year Programs of Study


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Colleges, including St. Clair College in Windsor, are urging the provincial government to approve policy changes that would allow them to expand their career-specific degree programs.


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And the schools have some public support. A recent survey conducted on behalf of Ontario colleges showed that nearly 70 percent of respondents support the creation of career-focused three-year programs of study at the college level.

The proposed changes would include the creation of new three-year study programs, an increase in the number of four-year study programs, and the creation of master’s programs in specialized technical fields such as robotics and animation. The changes would create more career options for graduates, including new opportunities to access managerial positions.

St. Clair College President Patti France said the three-year degrees currently offered by Ontario colleges do not match academic standards in other parts of the world.


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“Completion of a minimum of three years of study at a post-secondary institution, regardless of its teaching format, deserves the designation of a ‘diploma’,” France said in a press release announcing the survey results.

University degrees in Ontario are generally designed to last four years.

The president of St. Clair College, Patti France, is presented on the main campus on Tuesday, October 5, 2021.
The president of St. Clair College, Patti France, is presented on the main campus on Tuesday, October 5, 2021. Photo by Dan Janisse /Windsor Star

Ontario colleges currently offer a mix of four-year degree programs, two-year and three-year degree programs, classroom apprenticeship training, and graduate certificate programs for university and college graduates.

“Expanding college degree programs will help more students acquire the specialist expertise employers are looking for,” France said.

Unifor and Flex N Gate, a local company that supplies the global auto industry, have written letters of support for credential reform that colleges are asking the provincial government to do.


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“Graduates of the Ontario college system are consistently motivated, skilled and talented contributors to our businesses,” wrote Guido Benvenuto, vice president of engineering for Flex N Gate. “Within our companies, their exemplary academic learning experience translates into the type of technical and leadership attributes that are very much consistent with a degree designation. Our college graduates are rigorous problem identifiers and creative problem solvers; more often than not, they also develop the kinds of strategies and policies that amplify their value to our businesses.

Dino Chiodo, automotive director of Unifor, said his union strongly supports the college’s initiative to respond to the evolving skills needed by the auto industry as it transitions to electric vehicles.


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“Improving access to degree programs in St. Clair is critical to ensuring that Unifor members and other workers in the Windsor-Essex region can fully support and benefit from this transition from employment. automotive industry, ”wrote Chiodo.

The online survey of 1,086 adults aged 18 and over was conducted in June by Innovative Research Group Inc.

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  3. The main building of the St. Clair College campus at 2000 Talbot Road.  is shown in this archive photo from September 2012.

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A total of 69 percent of respondents either supported or strongly supported the proposal to allow colleges to offer three-year degrees. Twenty-six percent were neutral or uncertain, and six percent were opposed.

Almost 80% of respondents believe that expanding college degree programs is a good way to create more opportunities for students, 79% being in favor or strongly of the idea, 18% neutral or unsure and only 3% oppose it.

More than half of respondents were in favor of creating master’s programs in colleges, 52% being in favor, 11% against and 36% neutral or uncertain.

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