On Campus

Ontario's Liberals want more specialization in higher ed

Tories call for elimination of foreign scholarships program

Ontario’s government, which will fight an election this fall, outlined its plan for higher education yesterday in Toronto and the opposition PC Party responded with their education platform. John Milloy, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, said that the Liberals’ plan, Putting Students First, is a response to a single goal of Ontario families that can be summarized as: “I want my kids to go on in school and get a good job.”  The most striking detail of the plan is that the government would negotiate mandate agreements with institutions “to align both provincial priorities and institutional aspirations.” That could mean that universities and colleges will be asked to focus on delivering what they deliver best, whether that’s applied degrees, two-year college certificates, or the traditional teaching-research model. The need for more “specialization” was a central conclusion of the 2009 book Academic Transformations, The Forces Reshaping Higher Education in Ontario, written by four of the country’s leading post-secondary researchers. They argued that Ontario wastes money by teaching such a high percentage of students in research-intensive universities, when many students don’t want or need that type of education. The authors called for measures that would compel existing institutions to concentrate more on certain kinds of activities and less on others. The Ontario PC party’s platform calls for the elimination of Ontario’s $30-million Trillium Scholarships for foreign students.

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