The innovative plan by the Lakehead University and Georgian University Partnership Centre to create expanded university studies in Central Ontario will be submitted to the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU) this week.
Unveiled publicly June 17, the Lakehead-Georgian strategy has support from the County of Simcoe and from City of Barrie council.
It was developed in response to a call from the MTCU to increase degree capacity in parts of Ontario with growing demand for postsecondary education.
Under the Lakehead-Georgian plan, by 2030 more than 50 degree programs will be delivered to as many as 6,000 students. Many offerings will be integrated diploma-degrees, allowing students to graduate in four years and enter the workforce sooner, better prepared for their chosen careers.
“This is postsecondary education for the twenty-first century,” says Georgian President and CEO Dr. MaryLynn West-Moynes. “Employers today are asking for more from our graduates – they need people to think and do and lead. Our vision combines the best of college and university education. We will ensure we have productive graduates who join the workforce ready to fully contribute and strengthen the economy.”
Lakehead University and Georgian University Partnership Centre have the capacity to add up to an additional 2,000 students without building new infrastructure – 1,200 students at Georgian’s Barrie Campus, many in the state-of-the-art Sadlon Centre for Health, Wellness and Sciences, and 800 at Lakehead University’s campus in Orillia.
“Our partnership builds on the strengths of each institution by leveraging available resources, infrastructure and advanced, high-tech facilities to ensure effective and efficient use of taxpayer dollars,” says Lakehead President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Brian Stevenson. “It is realistic, achievable and responsible.”
Under the plan to be submitted to MTCU, when existing capacity is filled, the project would include the creation of two new buildings over the next three to 10 years. One thousand Design and Visual Arts students in degree and diploma programs would eventually be located in downtown Barrie, connecting them to the city’s vibrant business and cultural scene. The move downtown would also include an entrepreneurship hub and business incubator. Another building would be constructed on Georgian’s current Barrie Campus to accommodate up to 600 new engineering, technology, environmental and science degree students.
“We know the new provincial government has a huge challenge ahead balancing the need for growth with fiscal realities,” says West-Moynes. “In the meantime, our region has fallen behind on needed undergraduate degree education. We believe our plan resolves that dilemma immediately. Given approval, we could start tomorrow.”