About the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario
The Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario is an arm’s-length agency of the Government of Ontario dedicated to ensuring the continued improvement of the postsecondary education system in Ontario. The Council was created through the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario Act, 2005. It is mandated to conduct research, evaluate the postsecondary education system, and provide policy recommendations to the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities with a view to enhance the quality, access, and accountability of Ontario’s higher education system.
The report is available here: TheThe Benefits of Greater Differentiation of Ontario’s University Sector
Ciara Byrne, The Canadian Press: Tuesday, October 26, 2010
TORONTO – Ontario universities should play to their strengths instead of trying to be everything to everyone, the head of an advisory body on higher learning said Tuesday, as he called for schools to focus on the programs they do best.
A report commissioned by Ontario’s deputy post-secondary education minister by the Higher Education Quality Council is calling on universities to pick a specialty and stick with it, meaning Specialty U could be the future in Ontario.
“You will have the institutions doing what they do best, not trying to do what everybody else is doing,” council president Harvey Weingarten said Tuesday.
Tough economic times and a crush of students pouring into universities has schools spreading themselves too thin, Weingarten said. They need to shift their focus if they hope to be competitive.
Weingarten said the government should coax universities to run specialized programs by offering additional funding for those who do it well.
He has recommended the Ontario government start the transformation by asking schools in Toronto to distinguish themselves from one another.
In July, Deborah Newman the deputy minister of Training, Colleges and Universities asked the council to explore whether a differentiated set of universities would improve the overall performance of the system.
A spokesperson for minister John Milloy said Tuesday the minister will review the discussion paper carefully and will consult with universities.
The concept of speciality schools isn’t exactly new.
Universities have tried for years to stand out.
“Ontario universities are already largely differentiated,” said Sheldon Levy, president of Ryerson University in Toronto. “But each of us, at our core, do undergraduate work and graduate work.”
Ryerson specializes in applied professional programs, for example, while the University of Waterloo is known for education programs that combine academics with on-the-job training.
Laurentian University in northern Ontario will be offering the province’s first French architecture program in 2012. President Dominic Giroux said that’s an example of how universities could begin to shift towards specialties.
A move towards greater specialization would mean some “tough choices” for Ontario universities, the report acknowledged. It could be “painful” for an institution to decide it’s moving money from one program to another, for example.
But some say it’s a necessary change.
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