‘It’s a win-win for everyone’: Ontario colleges to offer three-year degrees

St. Clair College officials are applauding the province for allowing colleges in Ontario to offer new three-year degree programs this fall.

On Monday, the Ford government announced that colleges can develop new three-year degree programs and additional four-year degree programs in an effort to bolster the labor pool in specific sectors.

“This is tremendous news for students, employers and our community,” says St. Clair College President Patti France. “It will create a wealth of new career opportunities for students and will be pivotal to Ontario’s economic renewal.”

The announcement was made today by colleges and universities minister Jill Dunlop at an event at Conestoga College in Kitchener.

Officials at St. Clair College in Windsor say it’s a historic breakthrough that ensures more students will acquire the professional expertise to succeed in their careers.

“This is a truly historic improvement to post-secondary education,” according to France. “It builds on our tremendous success and will encourage more students to enroll in programs that lead to rewarding careers.”

“Expanding the degree programs at colleges ensures more students will have access to high-quality, career-focused programs,” said Minister Dunlop. “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 Monday’s announcement, colleges were only authorized to award degrees to graduates of their career-focused four-year programs.

St. Clair officials say the announcement recognizes the success of the college’s degree programs and brings true equity to Ontario’s post-secondary system.

“It really is a benchmark for the future,” explains St. Clair’s vice president of academic and college operations Waseem Habash. “It sets the stage for post-secondary education in Ontario to grow and flourish.

Habash says expanding the degree programs at colleges will fulfill the growing demand among employers for graduates with more highly specialized qualifications, noting this will be particularly important in sectors like the electric-vehicle industry that are advancing the transition to a cleaner economy.

“They’re looking in terms of what industry wants and what students need,” he says.

Habash believes the move will also benefit companies that promote themselves and their workforce internationally, as most jurisdictions outside Ontario aren’t familiar with the diploma credential.

“This is going to help colleges on an international level because now you’re providing three-year degrees and most people across the world don’t understand what a three-year advanced diploma is, but they know what a degree is,” he says.

Habash tells CTV News college officials can’t confirm which programs will be offered until they meet with industry experts to determine where the demand is greatest.

“It’s a win-win for everyone,” he says. “The students in particular and industry as well.”

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