St. Clair College main campus. ( 
file photo by Adelle Loiselle)St. Clair College main campus. ( file photo by Adelle Loiselle)

Ontario colleges to develop more three and four-year programs

Ontario's college system will take a step toward the university system to address the province's labour needs.

The Ontario government announced Monday that the province's 23 applied arts and technical colleges can now develop three and four-year programs in key growth sectors. This includes St. Clair College in Windsor and Chatham, as well as Fanshawe College in London.

Ontario Minister of Colleges and Universities (MCU) Jill Dunlop said the change will allow colleges to work on the same footing as universities, with the ultimate goal being to keep young graduates working at high-demand jobs in Ontario.

"Ontario colleges play a key role in providing students with career-focused education and in addressing the labour needs of key sectors driving the province’s economy," said Dunlop. "Expanding college degrees aligns with our government’s priority of investing in critical infrastructure and positioning Ontario as a North American leader in the auto sector while helping learners gain the skills necessary to support this sector of the economy."

The three-year shift will certainly not affect every college program. The change will be applied to disciplines like health care, digital data, cyber security, and process automation. Concerning the investment given to Ontario's auto industry, the government will soon begin looking for programs that train students for careers in electric and autonomous vehicle production.

St. Clair College President Patti France called the announcement groundbreaking.

"This is tremendous news for students, employers and our community," said France. "It will create a wealth of new career opportunities for students and will be pivotal to Ontario’s economic renewal."

Three-year programs, and any developed four-year programs, could be offered at colleges starting in the fall semester of 2023.

The MCU says any three or four-year programs must be distinct from those offered at universities, reviewed by the Postsecondary Education Quality Assessment Board (PEQAB), and approved by the MCU. The cap on degree programs that colleges can offer will be raised by five per cent for all publicly assisted colleges. Degree cap limits will go to 20 per cent for Institutes of Technology and Advanced Learning (ITALs), and 10 per cent for all other colleges.

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