The Ontario government has announced that they want universities to narrow their focus in the future by specializing in certain programs. This specialization is to help the government save money, an ever-present issue due to their ever-growing deficit.
All universities must make difficult decisions about what programs to focus on and what programs to scrap before the end of this year (to be implemented in later years) or they risk losing funding. What to specialize in is up to the universities, however, the government has the final say on all decisions.
The government knows that money is power. And with this knowledge the government is abusing their power by using universities’ need for money to control them, as well as limit the even more desperate-for-money university students who attend the now at-risk institutions.
Brad Duguid, the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, made the argument that two institutions may not be needed if both are offering the same course in the same region. But what Duguid and his ministry are neglecting to recognize is that there is so much more to universities than the programs they provide.
Choosing the right university has forever been a stressful decision for graduating high school and mature students, however with this new legislation would that decision soon cease to exist? Would students not be able to choose a university based on how close it was to home? How far away it was from home? Because their grandmother and mother went there? Because they liked the size and the campus atmosphere?
Following through with this legislation would take away a student’s right to choose a university based on what is the perfect fit for them – a choice that is crucial to a student’s success and happiness for the subsequent years after making their decisions.
This new legislation would put even more pressure on students because if a student chose a program and found they didn’t like it they would either be: stuck in it, forced to change into another one of their university’s limited specializations, drop-out or switch to another university.
What kind of implications would this have on students? No one really knows because students have always had options. With this legislation the government is taking those options, students’ right to choose a university based on more than academics, and a university’s right to provide their students with a variety of programs to major, minor, or just take electives in.
Making universities more specialized would get rid of out-of-faculty electives that help to expand science students brains past the chemical formulas, and arts students’ brains past the philosophy and sociology courses.
What Duguid is failing to realize is that there is so much more that needs to be added into the equation on universities specialization than just dollars and cents.
Would scrapping certain faculties on a certain campus limit the creation of clubs and groups that help to create community around the campus? Would it lead to narrow mindedness of students because nothing would challenge them? Would their growth in university become purely educational and lack the important intellectual growth?
There are too many unexplored potential consequences if universities and their students are forced to specialize.