Universities and colleges told to abandon weaker programs

Universities and colleges across Ontario will need to specialize or risk losing funding under a new draft policy proposed by the Ontario government.

The Globe and Mail obtained a copy of confidential files sent to higher-education leaders that revealed plans to compel schools to focus on stronger programs and abandon weaker ones.

Though the policy’s stated aim is to drive quality and competitiveness, the draft also indicates that the province is struggling financially to support post-secondary schools, citing institution inflation and increasing operating grants.

The draft policy suggests that a school’s key strength areas be assessed by examining student surveys and data on co-op programs or post-graduation employment statistics.

The plans, however, have left some universities worried about the trade-offs between prioritizing more successful programs over developing other less successful programs and possibly pigeonholing an institution to certain areas.

Though institutions in Ontario are largely allowed to operate by their own mandates, the provincial government can indirectly step in by controlling funding, the allocation of new student spaces and the approval of new programs.

Final revisions are expected by the end of October.

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