The government of Ontario has announced that public colleges will be able to develop new three-year degree programmes and additional four-year degrees in key sectors, a move welcomed by colleges in the Canadian province.
Previously, colleges mostly offered diploma courses and could only award degrees for four-year career-focused programmes courses.
Jill Dunlop, Ontario Minister of Colleges and Universities, said in a statement the expansion aligned with the government’s priority of investing in critical infrastructure. “This expansion will also provide students more opportunities to access high-quality education and ensure they graduate with the skills, expertise and credentials that meet the demands of today’s job market.”
Through the new three-year applied degrees colleges will be able to develop programmes in areas such as the health care, digital, data, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and process automation sectors. The government is also looking for courses to support the development of electric, autonomous and connected vehicles.
The cap of degree courses that colleges can offer will be raised by five per cent for all publicly assisted colleges.
It is anticipated that the new three-year and additional four-year degrees in applied areas of study will be available from the 2023/24 academic year, the government said.
Linda Franklin, President and CEO of Colleges Ontario, said, “This is a tremendous announcement and a truly historic day for postsecondary education in Ontario. Expanding the degree programs at colleges will open the door to more career opportunities for graduates and produce a more highly qualified workforce.”
John Tibbits, President of Conestoga College , said the expansion would play an important role in addressing workforce needs. “We are delighted to work with our government and industry partners to provide more career-focused learning opportunities for students and build a stronger Ontario,” he said.
Georgian College said it had started developing three-year degrees in hospitality and business in anticipation of the move.
Welcoming the government’s announcement, Dr. MaryLynn West-Moynes, President and CEO of Georgian College, said, “College three-year degrees will enhance graduates’ employment outcomes and earnings, as well as prepare a more diverse, robust and qualified labour force.”