Earlier this fall, every college and university was required to submit strategic mandate agreements to the province, looking at their unique attributes and where they'd like to go in the future.
During his visit to Boréal, Murray told Northern Life he's touring all of Ontario's colleges and universities “to reach out and come and listen to students, faculty, the administration about the future of their colleges and universities.”
At Boréal, the minister answered questions from students, faculty and other college staff members during a lunchtime town hall meeting and then spoke to elementary school children gathered at the college to watch a play.
Murray then moved onto Cambrian, visiting the new paramedic simulation lab and material handling circuit, as well as the welding and heavy equipment shops. He also met with representatives from Cambrian's three student governments.
He'd already visited Laurentian University in September.
When it comes to morphing post-secondary education, Murray said the province is looking at a number of ideas, including turning three-year college diplomas into three-year bachelor's degrees, and increasing online learning opportunities.
Boréal president Denis Hubert said he's pleased with the direction the province is bringing post-secondary education.
“I liked his frankness,” he said. “He said 'If you had to reinvent the college system, what would you do?' That's the first time I've been asked that. That's interesting.”
Cambrian president Sylvia Barnard said in an email statement that Murray reviewed the college's strategic mandate agreement and spoke to officials about the challenges the education sector faces.
“He described Cambrian as a leader in enhancing access to post-secondary education, and keeping college affordable through our learning account and graduation tuition rebate programs,” she said.
“He described those programs as innovative and encouraging. He recognized our strong leadership in the province and globally in meeting industry needs with model partnerships and relationships.
“He was highly impressed with our innovation of blending online, virtual and hands-on demonstration through eDome. He had a robust conversation with student reps from the three governments as well.”
Strategic mandate agreements
The province has asked post-secondary institutions to submit three priorities as a part of their strategic mandate agreements. The following are the priorities submitted by local institutions.
-Development of its programs in Central and Southwestern Ontario;
-The creation of a centre of excellence in flexible learning;
-Facilitating transition between secondary, college and university levels.
-Creating fulfilling careers and avocations;
-Being responsive to student and industry needs;
-Optimizing the use of financial and staff resources.
-To be among the top 25 per cent of Canadian universities in student satisfaction and engagement;
-To actively engage with community partners;
-To focus on three areas of excellence (environmental sustainability, mining innovation and exploration, rural and northern health) and two regional needs (indigenous relations and governance, sustainable northern economic development).