Leaders from Northern College and Algoma University have in been in talks regarding the expansion of university access to Timmins and its surrounding communities.
Algoma University academic dean Donna Rogers told SooToday following the school’s senate meeting earlier this month that a couple of university programs should be rolled out in partnership with the college as soon as the fall of 2019.
“We think with these discussions we’ve been having that there’s a third way, and that’s probably even a better way to serve students, which is that we don’t make them choose between college and university,” said Rogers. “We find ways to work together to deliver programs that actually bring a combination of the practical skills we typically think of as coming from a college and the critical thinking, communication, research inquiry kinds of skills you think of coming from a university education.”
According to a press release from Algoma University, the latest round of talks - which were a product of prior conversations with Northern College and the city of Timmins - also included Dr. Ken Coates, who authored a report on behalf of the Northern Policy Institute entitled A University for Timmins: Possibilities and Realities.
“We did some high level thinking about what existing programs each institution has that might fit together, might integrate in a meaningful way for students,” said Rogers. “So really, what I’ve come back to do is think about it from the perspective of our existing programs at Algoma U and to engage the faculty who teach in those programs.”
It’s also a matter of meeting the specific needs of the Timmins region as a whole, said Algoma University president Asima Vezina told members of senate during the school’s March 2 senate meeting.
“The community, college and university all agree that program development, in that particular area of the region, should directly meet the socioeconomic needs that are presenting the region right now.” said Vezina. “They strongly encouraged us to think about including the needs identified by Anishinaabe communities in that area, and to consider the labour market needs as well with focus on career readiness.”
The partnership between Algoma University and Northern College, which started roughly eight years ago, will now seek to incorporate new methods of program delivery into its approach. Reaching Timmins’ surrounding communities and catering to the needs of prospective students who can’t necessarily devote time to full time academic career will be also priorities, says Rogers.
“A lot of the people who are using those kinds of modes are people who are already working, who maybe are part time students, and who can carve out two weeks to achieve that in a focused way,” Rogers said.
It’s still unknown at this time exactly what programs will be rolled out at the beginning of the 2019 academic year.
“I’d rather set a goal that’s challenging than just say, ‘oh, these things take five years',” Rogers said. “We’re leaving an entire university generation, a three or four year generation behind if we don’t do anything about this until four or five years from now.”