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Colleges can now develop three-year degree programs

'This will create a wealth of new career opportunities for students and will be pivotal to Ontario’s economic renewal,' says Ron Common
20200526-Sault College summer stock-DT-03
Sault College. Darren Taylor/SooToday

Colleges in Ontario can now develop new three-year degree programs is a historic breakthrough that ensures more students will acquire the professional expertise to succeed in their careers. The full text of a news release from Sault College follows:

The Ontario government’s announcement today that colleges can develop new three-year degree programs is a historic breakthrough that ensures more students will acquire the professional expertise to succeed in their careers.

“This is tremendous news for students, employers and our community,” said Dr. Ron Common, President, Sault College. “It will create a wealth of new career opportunities for students and will be pivotal to Ontario’s economic renewal. Sault College is excited to expand upon its existing degree options, which currently include Honours Bachelor of Science in Nursing and Bachelor of Engineering – Mechatronics offered in partnership with Humber College,” he added.

“Sault College will be pursuing degree options in our aviation, health and trades programs where we currently offer three-year diplomas. Ontario is the only jurisdiction in the world that I am aware of that grants three-year diplomas. This is a matter of fairness to students. Students studying for three years will soon be granted the same credential as their national and global counterparts. This decision is long awaited, and Sault College will be at the forefront of providing multiple options to students. You will now be able to study with us from one to four years and get the corresponding appropriate credential’ added Common.

The announcement was made today by Colleges and Universities Minister Jill Dunlop at an event at Conestoga College in Kitchener.

The Minister announced colleges can begin developing new three-year degree programs alongside their diploma programs and can expand their range of career-focused four-year degree programs.

“Expanding the degree programs at colleges ensures more students will have access to high quality, career-focused programs,” Minister Dunlop said. “More students will acquire the expertise and credentials to succeed in today’s job market.”

Currently, most of the programs offered at colleges are diploma programs. Prior to today’s announcement, colleges were only authorized to award degrees to graduates of their career focused four-year programs. The announcement today recognizes the success of the colleges’ degree programs and brings true equity to Ontario’s post-secondary system. It ensures every student whose education fulfils Ontario’s degree-level requirements is awarded a degree upon graduation.

Expanding the degree programs at colleges will fulfil the growing demand among employers for graduates with more highly specialized qualifications. This will be particularly important in sectors like the electric-vehicle industry that are advancing the transition to a cleaner economy.

As well, this benefits companies that promote themselves and their workforce internationally, as most jurisdictions outside Ontario aren’t familiar with the diploma credential. “Degree holders enjoy more opportunities in our global manufacturing world,” said Guido Benvenuto, the vice president of engineering at Flex-N-Gate, a supplier to the global automotive sector. “This will make a significant difference in our sector.” “This is a truly historic improvement to post-secondary education,” Dr. Ron Common said. “It builds on our tremendous success and will encourage more students to enroll in programs that lead to rewarding careers.”