Ontario doesn't need another French university - Macleans.ca

Ontario doesn’t need another French university

Perhaps a Chinese university would make more sense


Jessica Darmanin

The University of Ottawa’s English newspaper thinks French-speaking Ontarians deserve “a university to call their own,” because, they argue, “Franco-Ontarians are plenty in number but hugely underrepresented at universities.”

They quote Geneviève Latour, a student and co-president of the Regroupement étudiant franco-ontarien, an advocacy group. “It’s really a question of having the right to it,” she says.

Oh please. Francophone Ontarians are neither “large in numbers” nor “underrepresented.” In fact, they’re quite well-served already. Ontario does not need another francophone university.

The Fulcrum and Latour should check out the study on francophone post-secondary participation published this week by the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario. It says that students from French-language school boards are slightly more likely to attend university than average.

That’s not surprising considering the number of options available to study in English or French.

I visited Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ont., one two bilingual schools in the province, last winter while researching for the Maclean’s Guide to Canadian Universities. Francophone students told me they were pleased with the number of options, 38 fully-French programs and growing.

At the University of Ottawa, the world’s biggest bilingual university, students occasionally complain about not being served well enough in French, but, then again, the English students complain that they aren’t served well enough in English. It’s hard to argue there aren’t enough options at a place where 31 per cent of students are francophone and I think it’s safe to assume there isn’t exactly an overwhelming demand for the French programs they do have or else the university wouldn’t have made the drastic decision to decrease tuition by $10,000 for only French international students.

On top of that, there’s already a French-only university, Hearst, with three northern campuses and 800 students. There are also French-only colleges like Collège Boréal, with several campuses and La Cité collégiale in Ottawa, and Glendon, the bilingual faculty of York University in Toronto.

The HEQCO report concludes that, while there’s plenty of access overall, there isn’t enough in one particular region: western Ontario. I disagree, considering the same report says 93 per cent of francophones live in eastern, northeastern or central Ontario and the province already offers free money to francophone students who travel more than 80 kilometers to study in French.

Not only are the options plentiful but, like it or not, French is a language of declining importance. In the 2006 Census, 2.4% of Ontarians spoke primarily French at home. That dropped to 2.2% in 2011, according to the National Household Survey. Chinese languages, meanwhile, were primarily spoken by 3.2% in 2006 and 3.8% in 2011. Perhaps Chinese speakers should get a university?

Francophones will argue that French is special because it’s an “official language” and is therefore required to do business with the government, but the federal government isn’t hiring much lately and political power is shifting west where most people couldn’t care less about French.

The truth is, the franco-ontarien minority has long received more than their share of tax money to ensure access to education in their mother tongue and the numbers show they’re getting it. They should be happy their fellow taxpayers have been so generous and stop demanding more.


Ontario doesn’t need another French university

  1. I’d be dishonest if I didn’t say that this is GOOD NEWS. God works in the most mysterious ways His wonders to perform ! >< Tell your Premier, your M.P.s and your M.L.A.s to start budgeting BILLIONS to set up translation departments for law and medical faculties. " Please Lord. Help this diabolic plan move ahead swiftly so that Ontario may wake up from their slumber and cause others, further west, to take some responsibility for the mess they helped create. Amen." L+

  2. It is Kebec that needs a new university, because its population is large enough, but Ontario does not need another university, since it has a much smaller population. The Franco-Amerindians (Canadiens) are already over represented and there is a need for another university for the English-speaking majority. Enough is enough. The Franco-Amerindians of ONTARIO, keep making demands that even the bigger minority of English-speaking people in Kebec do not get.

  3. Vous devriez peut-être encourager le développement d’école francophones, vous augmenteriez probablement la moyenne du quotient intellectuel des ontariens par le fait même.

    one of the only place on earth where you disrespect someone for speaking more than one language.

    Vive la liberté, vive l’indépendance.

    • Francois, not all Anglophones think the same way as the individual who wrote this ridiculous article – so please don’t jump to conclusions.

      I would love to see a French-only university (a substantial one of the caliber of U of Montreal). This article is so full of falsehoods, I don’t even know where to begin.

      I will just give the author one tip: when you say that it is odd that Francophones of Ontario are underrepresented in universities, you should mention in the same sentence that Anglophones are vastly OVER represented in universities. There are 3 English-only universities in Quebec with a population of 600,000 Anglophones and not a single university in Ontario that is French only with a population of 500,000 Francophones (I don’t count Hearst university).

      Don’t get me wrong, I think that the PQ policies can be at times draconian towards minorities.

      • You are not making any sense. Francophones in Ontario may or may not be over- or under-represented in Ontario universities. But the way to assess that is not by comparing to Quebec, where the number of English-language universities clearly has little to do with the number of Anglophones in Quebec, and everything do with Quebec history and the international status of the English language.

  4. Change “French” to “English” in this article and it would be a typical anti-English rant by a PQ language hardliner. And Canadians wonder why many in Quebéc want to separate

  5. N’importe quoi cet article, je parie que la personne qui l’a rédigée n’a pas été sur le terrain confirmer les dires de chacun. Il y a certains programmes à l’Université d’O où il est impossible d’obtenir son bacc sans avoir suivi un cours entièrement en anglais. C’est article a clairement été écrit par un Canadian qui ne doit absolument rien connaître d’autre hormis sa langue et sa culture anglophone..

    • Ne faudrait-il donc pas, à prime abord, assurer une offre plus adéquate de cours en français à l’u de Ottawa?

  6. To the comment “Perhaps a Chinese university should make more sense”, I can only respond : as long as French remains an official language and in the Canadian Chart of Rights and Freedoms, there is no argument to be made regarding numbers. The Francophone minority, as does the Anglophone minority in Quebec, has a right to these services no matter where they study, they work and live in Canada.

  7. French is Canada’s language. Chinese is a foreign language.

  8. This article is seriously lame. Disappointing.

  9. I agree with just about every comment posted here disagreeing with this author’s completely misleading article. “Twin Peaks” has it right when comparing French Ontario numbers with their counterparts in Quebec… It is totally unfair that 500,000 Franco-Ontarians don’t have access to one fully French university while the 600,000 Anglophones in QC have access to three. And to the Author, please don’t compare one of canada’s official languages with a foreign one (Chinese in this instance), no matter how great it is. It’s comparing apples and oranges and in shows your complete lack of cultural and historical undderstanding of Canada… What a pitty this was posted in Maclean’s.

  10. Let’s take a quick trip:

    -N. Korea holds nuclear threats over S. Korea;
    -China, over Japan;
    -with natural disasters in S.E. Asia;
    -never-ending sectarian wars amongst Islamic nations;
    -Israel sitting precariously with the moment to moment threat of being bombed off the map by Iran or one of its satellites;
    -African nations farther from civil peace -while wanting peace but have no idea how to get or retain it;
    -every European nation on guard to restrain Islamic growth, cultural take-over and terrorism;
    -S. American nations taking the path of dictatorial socialism;
    -U.S. citizens unsure of where their administration’s loyalty lies in this global tumult of religion and politics; and, so on.

    The world is drunk with evil- in its many forms ! And, it looks like Canada can not stand peace either !

    Out of the evil for revenge, with the futile desire to change the outcome of a 200 year old war, the turmoil has gone on. Let’s be honest: it’s all in the name of religion- the majority wanting freedom of thought and the minority absolutely afraid of losing their false ‘security’ under a legalistic, dictatorial religion and its major language in parts of Canada. For the last 50 years, under federal leadership, that minority has had the desire to break away from their religion while keeping it only as a cultural mark. The majority have been blamed and the majority, in a patronizing manner, have taken the blame ! The ‘in-house’ struggles of the minority is destroying Canada. Like P.E. Trudeau and R. Levesque, P. Marois has had no idea how to ‘break the chains’ so they’ve made it a language issue. L+

  11. This discussion is all well and good, but what we should really be focused on is the fact that Ontario has TOO MANY Universities. Professional schools, for example, have outgrown their requirements. Training way too many teachers, lawyers, doctors. New grads in these professions can’t get jobs. They have just opened YET ANOTHER law school in Thunder Bay. The government is throwing money away subsidizing all this.

    A University education means much less than it used to. What is good for an individual University is not necessarily good for its students or the province. It seems like growth, money, and advertising have become way more important than academics in these Universities that are run like businesses rather than places of learning.

    Read the recent Macleans article that shows us how our workforce planning is significantly out of whack. Less arts students and teachers, more oil workers. Instead of talking about opening more Universities, we should be thinking about why every single city or small town (?? Hearst?? Kapuskasing??) in our province needs a University.

  12. As a bilingual graduate at Laurentian University and now an instructor at the same institution I am quite surprised to hear that francophone students are satisfied by what is offered to them.
    Yes, 38 out of 140 undergraduate programs claims to be offered completely in French, but the choices are limited and to complete your degree in French may extend completion time.

    I was able to take nearly all of my first year classes in French, but after that point only managed to take one or two a year in my chosen language. Some required courses are only offered in French every two or three years, making completion of a 4 year degree in 4 years a matter of impeccable planning and luck.

    Other programs were advertised as being offered completely in French, but later cut while students were mid-way through it.

    While I do agree that Ontario does not require an additional French-language university, the current offerings do not satisfy the need and do require some improvement.

    • Je pense qu’il est clair que l’université Laurentienne ne répond pas aux besoins des francophones. Si l’on regarde l’image sur la pancarte qui fait la promotion de la nouvelle construction à la Laurentienne, on peut constater que toute l’affichage sur ce panneau est en anglais. Les anglophones remarquent souvent la présence du français, mais ils ne remarquent que rarement son absence. À la Laurentienne l’administration pense en anglais; on traduit le mot «building» en «édifice» alors que le mot pavillon serait la norme en français. Une université de langue française est la solution logique. Le Collège Cambrian était autrefois bilingue, mais ne répondait guère aux besoins de la communauté francophone. Ainsi, on a créé le Collège Boréal et il est devenu un des meilleurs collège de la province. Il est temps que le l’Ontario français se dote d’une université française où notre langue sera privilégiée.

  13. Let’s be honest, Ontario doesn’t even have an independent French language university. Even tiny Nova Scotia has a French language university (Université Ste-Anne), but Ontario, with the largest number of francophones of any province other than Quebec, only has a couple of bilingual universities (Laurentian and Ottawa) where francophones are poorly served in their mother tongue. I was enrolled in French language courses at one of these where the textbooks were in English. Yes, there are French colleges, but so what? Their viability should only serve to bolster the arguments in favour of a French language university, or perhaps you believe that fancophones should only aspire to work in the trades or as technicians. Moreover, the Université de Hearst is so remote and has so few programmes that it isn’t of use or interest to most students. It is federated with Laurentian University, so it is not entirely independent. Collège Glendon is the place Quebeckers go to learn English; one does not exactly bask in French-Canadian culture in Toronto. In Quebec, anglophones have three English-language universities (McGill, Condordia and Bishop’s). The truth is, Franco-Ontarians are still living with the consequences of racist legislation under Regulation 17, which banned the teaching of French in this province. The first French language public secondary school in Ontario only opened circa 1968. Furthermore. for years, any home owner’s taxes defaulted to the English public education system, diverting French speaking taxpayers’ dollars into the English language system. Francophones have been subsidizing English schools in this province for generations. Bravo to MPP France Gélinas for introducing a long awaited bill to finally give Franco-Ontarians the educational opportunities they need and deserve. Vive la francophonie canadienne!