Toronto Star, May 30, 2011: Province to decide on satellite campuses for colleges, universities
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Province to decide on satellite campuses for colleges, universities
The Ontario government will no longer let colleges and universities decide where to set up satellite campuses - as many small and remote schools have done to gain a foothold in the populous GTA. From now on, Queen's Park alone will determine if, and where, there will be new spinoff sites.
The change is a bid to avoid uneven clusters of higher learning in parts of Ontario that leave other corners starved for post-secondary programs, MPP John Milloy, Ontario's minister of training, colleges and universities, said in a speech Monday to the Canadian Club.
But it throws into question a new campus Wilfrid Laurier University has been planning for three years with the boom town of Milton. Laurier president Max Blouw said Monday he hopes Ontario will agree Milton needs a university campus so Laurier can bid on the contract. In January, Laurier signed a second memorandum of understanding with the town, which has been dreaming of a 60-hectare "education village" that might include a campus of Sheridan College.
"We really don't know what this new policy means, but it's clear it will involve a bidding process, so we're going to prepare a fabulous bid," Blouw said.
"Laurier has grown more quickly than most universities, but we value the small, intimate model, so we don't want to add on to our Waterloo campus or our Brantford campus," he noted.
A spokesperson for Milloy would say only that the Milton proposal "will be subject to the new process, which means the government determines where satellite campuses need to go."
Until now, universities have tended to negotiate deals with local municipalities to open satellite campuses, and then inform the provincial government, which would then provide funding for each student.
"What if we turned the process around?" asked Milloy. "What if government - with a careful eye on the province's growth plans - identified key areas that might be suitable for satellites?
"And yes, it means that government will have the right to say no to requests because they fail to align with system-wide priorities. But it will give Ontario students the reassurance that our system is evolving in a way that focuses on quality and excellence."
© 2011 Torstar Corporation
The Hamilton Spectator published the story on June 1 and ran a correction on June 2.