A new joint partnership between Lakehead University and the Georgian University Partnership Centre will expand postsecondary opportunities to better serve the students of Orillia, Barrie, Simcoe County, and beyond. The partnership details were shared at a City of Orillia Special Council meeting on July 21.
City Council voted unanimously to support the proposed plan. The joint proposal is in response to a call from the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU) to postsecondary institutions to increase degree capacity in areas with growing demand for postsecondary education.
“City Council’s support for this excellent proposal reinforces our commitment to the outstanding postsecondary institutions we have in Simcoe County. Their joint plan represents a smart approach to enhancing educational opportunities, which will benefit students, local industry and the region as a whole,” says City of Orillia Mayor, Angelo Orsi.
“We are extremely encouraged by the amount of community support we have received for our plan to work together with Georgian to enhance postsecondary opportunities in the region,” says Lakehead University President & Vice-Chancellor Dr. Brian Stevenson. “The benefits are clear – our plan means improved access to postsecondary education, close to home, for more students throughout Simcoe County.”
Earlier this month, the Lakehead/Georgian proposal received the support of the County of Simcoe Council, and the City of Barrie Council also supports degree expansion plans set out in the proposal.
In the Lakehead/Georgian proposal, more than 50 degree programs will be delivered to as many as 6,000 students by 2030. The two institutions have the capacity to add up to an additional 2,000 students immediately, without building new infrastructure – 1,200 students at Georgian’s Barrie Campus, and 800 at Lakehead University’s campus in Orillia.
“By working together, we have developed a plan to grow the number of degrees available in Simcoe County. Our plan is exciting and innovative, while being completely realistic and responsible,” says Georgian President and CEO MaryLynn West-Moynes. “We have exceptional facilities already in place on our campuses. We believe this is the kind of collaborative and achievable proposal the Ministry is seeking. We will combine the best of college and university for the benefit of students and the economic future of our region.”
The plan outlines inventive solutions for meeting the needs of students throughout Simcoe County. Many program offerings will be integrated diploma-degrees, allowing students to graduate in four years, better prepared for their chosen careers.
Under the plan to be submitted to MTCU, when existing capacity is filled, the project would include the creation of two new buildings to create specialized program space to expand engineering programs, bring design and visual arts students to downtown Barrie, and support an entrepreneurship hub and business incubator.
A Georgian/Lakehead “Notice of Intent” was submitted to MTCU in June and will be followed by the submission of the detailed joint proposal by the province’s Sept. 26 deadline.