Conestoga news

November 10, 2004 3:22 PM

Ontario's Colleges Call for 70 Per Cent Higher Education Achievement Rate

ACAATO, the Ontario association of public colleges and institutes, today released its submission to the Rae Review examining post-secondary education in the province.

The submission is titled Achieving High Expectations in Ontario's Postsecondary Education Sector: A Plan for Change. It calls for the province to set a benchmark of post-secondary educational attainment, including apprenticeship, of at least 70 per cent of Ontarians in the 25-34 age group.

"A post-secondary education is essential for most workers in today's economy, in all capacities and in all fields," says Conestoga President John Tibbits. "If Ontario is to maintain its economic strength and competitiveness, there needs to be a dramatic increase in the number of young people trained and educated in our colleges and universities."

In 2001, only 51 per cent of the 25-34 age group in Ontario had attained a post-secondary education. Meanwhile, as more of Ontario's workforce retires, increasing numbers of employers expect new-job applicants to have post-secondary education and training. By 2007, the federal government estimates that 70 per cent of all new-job openings in Canada will require some post-secondary education.

"Because of the unique, dynamic nature of our region, Conestoga will be submitting its own report to the Rae Review, indicating our specific vision for post-secondary education in the 21st century," President Tibbits adds. "Conestoga is nevertheless very supportive of the ACAATO document. It is thorough and well-researched, and it presents solid, progressive recommendations for reforms that are essential to moving higher education forward in Ontario."

ACAATO represents Ontario's 21 colleges of applied arts and technology and three institutes of technology and advanced learning.

Some of the key points in the submission are in the attached backgrounder. The full submission can be viewed at



ACAATO's Submission to the Rae Review

In its submission, ACAATO recommends a comprehensive plan to support increased post-secondary education, including:

Attracting more people to higher education . . .

In the submission, ACAATO outlines key elements to help Ontario achieve a 70 per cent educational attainment rate.

For example, ACAATO recommends new investment to encourage more employers to take part in apprenticeship programs. It also recommends expanding e-learning and other initiatives to bring apprenticeship programs to more individuals.

Proper recognition of post-secondary education credits . . .

One of the key challenges in Ontario is the roadblocks students face when they seek to further their post-secondary education.

There are no consistent standards for recognizing post-secondary credits and courses already completed. Students have reported problems and frustration when they seek to transfer to another institution.

Ontario must develop a post-secondary sector that supports the lifelong learning activities of the population.

Ontario's colleges recommend measures to promote better co-operation among post-secondary institutions and to establish more consistent standards for recognizing student achievement.

Proper funding for college education . . .

Chronic underfunding is hurting Ontario's ability to produce more quality graduates.

When adjusted for inflation, funding to Ontario colleges from grants and fees has dropped about 30 per cent in the past 15 years. Ontario's colleges are funded at about 70 per cent of the national average and are the lowest-funded colleges in Canada.

This has led to reduced instructional hours, larger class sizes, fewer full-time faculty, fewer counsellors and constrained investments in learning resources and information technology.

In order to train and educate more graduates properly, Ontario must commit to reinvesting in its colleges, increasing funding to at least the national average.