Over the summer, the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, the Hon. Glenn Murray issued a discussion paper “Strengthening Ontario’s Centres of Creativity, Innovation and Knowledge.” The paper seeks to identify ways to improve quality, productivity and innovation in Ontario’s post-secondary system. As part of this review, each college and university was asked to submit a short document (8 pages) that would demonstrate how its activities, current and planned contribute to the direction identified in the discussion paper. The Minister has asked the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO) to assess the initial submissions against the objectives established in the discussion paper, after which agreements between the Ministry and each institution will be negotiated.
The mandate submission required three components: a mandate statement, a vision statement and the identification of three priority objectives. We developed our submission based on our current Strategic Plan and our recent strategic plan consultations. There were also province-wide discussions, which are reflected in Colleges Ontario’s “Transforming Higher Education in the 21st Century.” I encourage you to read this paper, as it provides an overview of the many challenges and opportunities facing post-secondary education and colleges in particular.
Our submission builds on our strengths as one of the top colleges in Canada, where all program areas contribute greatly to the growth and transformation of the Niagara economy. We seek the ability to offer new credentials in our submission. It continues to build on our differentiation from other institutions, reinforcing program depth in areas critical to regional success and uniquely able to be delivered by Niagara College. These include growing and enhancing our technology programming and research, as the sole technical postsecondary institution in the region, programs building on our border location and at a world renowned tourism destination and solidifying our position as a national leader in culinary, wine and beer studies.
Over the course of the next few months, our discussions with the Minister on this submission and further internal discussions will guide us in developing our 2013-2016 Strategic Plan. We will be seeking input and advice from our Board of Governors during their retreat at the end of the month.
This is a critical time for colleges in Ontario. The opportunity to make major change does not come often and I believe we are at one of those moments now. Significant changes, such as offering three year degrees in program areas where we currently offer advanced diplomas, will set our course for many years. I welcome your comments and input in our discussions over the coming months.
Dan Patterson, Ph.D.