Colleges propose expansion of degree programs | St. Clair College
St. Clair College is one of 24 colleges across Ontario calling for a new provincial strategy for post-secondary education.
President Patti France stands outside the South campus.

St. Clair College is one of 24 colleges across Ontario calling for a new provincial strategy for post-secondary education that will expand the range of degree programs at colleges, including the creation of career-focused three-year degree programs and master’s programs in specialized fields.

The call for a new vision for post-secondary education follows the recent release of a white paper, The Future of Ontario’s Workers, by the StrategyCorp Institute of Public Policy and Economy. The white paper proposes measures to drive economic growth as Ontario emerges from the COVID-19 lockdown.

The white paper, which was commissioned by Colleges Ontario, calls for the province to give colleges the autonomy to decide independent of government what mix of credentials and programs will best respond to the evolving labour market and accelerating automation in the workplace.

The recommendation has been submitted to Colleges and Universities Minister Ross Romano’s recently announced consultations on modernizing post-secondary education.

“Ontario’s colleges have always been renowned for their ability to rapidly respond to employment trends by constantly updating the curriculum of existing programs, or by developing completely new offerings,” said St. Clair College President Patti France. “New technology and techniques in all fields, new entrepreneurial businesses and practices, and new manufacturing procedures develop at a mind-boggling pace. This proposal by Colleges Ontario - if implemented - will further enhance the ability of our institutions to quickly deliver the new knowledge and skills needed for Ontario to be fully and successfully involved in those exciting new economic opportunities.”

The proposed post-secondary strategy would help fulfil Ontario’s transition to a performance-based post-secondary system by placing greater emphasis on graduates’ success. It would authorize colleges to:

  • Create new career-focused three-year degree programs, replacing many of the current diploma programs.
  • Expand the range of four-year degree programs at colleges to meet local demand without being restricted by arbitrary provincial maximums.
  • Create master’s degree programs for university and college graduates for in-demand specialized fields such as robotics, cybersecurity and animation.

Colleges are also recommending the government provide more funding for short-term micro-credential programs to increase the retraining opportunities for the unemployed and underemployed.