The debate over how universities and colleges relate to one another has been lively in Ontario for at least two decades.
This year marks the twentieth anniversary of the commissioning of a province-wide review of the colleges’ mandate whose report recommended greater opportunities for advanced training – defined as “education that combines the strong applied focus of college career-oriented programs with a strong foundation of theory and analytical skills.” The report envisaged that some advanced training would be undertaken by colleges alone, and some would be offered jointly with universities and would lead to a university degree (Vision 2000 Steering Committee 1990, 16-17). A follow-up report in 1993 found that opportunities for advanced training remained “isolated and not part of an integrated and planned system of advanced training, with equitable student access” (Task Force on Advanced Training 1993, 11-13).
By 1999, Ontario’s colleges and universities entered into a province-wide agreement, the “Port Hope Accord” (CUCC, 1999) to facilitate the transfer of college diploma graduates into university programs. Yet the Honourable Bob Rae’s recent report found that “nowhere near enough progress has been made” (Ontario 2005, 14). Meanwhile, student demand for combined diploma-degree programs appears to be increasing (CUCC, 2007).