New university's funding question
The opening of the new University of Ontario Institute of Technology in September has been a longtime coming and not without criticism.
UOIT, located in Oshawa, will accept 700 to 1,000 first-year students this year, said Heather Middleton, UOIT's communications officer. The school will offer nine undergraduate programs and will expand these and add a graduate program over the next few years, she explained.
According to Joel Duff, Ontario chairperson for the Canadian Federation of Students, UOIT blurs the lines between public and private universities. "It's clear that the people do not merely need hi-tech programs and market-driven sector [education]," he said, adding it is not going to address the needs of students in arts and science.
It has been a long time since a new university has been built and there is a legitimate need, Duff acknowledged, while noting recent provincial cuts to university funding suggest the money going to UOIT might have been better spent at existing institutions.
Middleton said she could not comment about funding, but noted there has been misconception about how UOIT will operate. "It's still going to be a traditional university," she said. "Students will come to class, but will have the advantage of [access to] technology," adding UOIT programs will have a career focus.
Arnice Cadieux, executive director of public affairs for the Council of Ontario Universities, said the new university offers more options to students, which is beneficial. Cadieux said the COU has no problems with the UOIT as long as it meets the provinces education quality standards.
According of Dave Ross, spokesperson for the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, one of the priorities of the government has been to make an investment in youth via the skills sector. "This new university will focus on preparing students for careers," Ross said.
"[The university] certainly will address a niche that's been missing in post-secondary education for a long time," he added.
With files from Kelly Marcella