Academic freedom key to recognition of stand-alone college degrees, says OPSEU

"The Colleges Ontario report shows a disturbing lack of respect for, and awareness of, what it takes to deliver on their promises." — Warren (Smokey) Thomas, OPSEU President.

logo for the Ontario Public  Service Employees Union (OPSEU)Toronto (21 Jan. 2015) — Faculty represented by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE) question the commitment of Ontario colleges to provide them with the right conditions to deliver stand-alone four-year nursing degrees.

While nursing degrees are currently offered jointly by Ontario colleges and universities, a new report issued by Colleges Ontario advocates that colleges are well equipped to offer nursing degrees on their own. The union is concerned that this report fails to address the academic changes that must occur for such degrees to be viewed as legitimate.

Colleges Ontario report promoting stand-alone four-year nursing degrees stirs concern about global recognition

OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas is calling for a commitment to academic freedom policies that would allow Ontario’s world-class colleges to be recognized globally.  

“Ontario College faculty are highly trained experts in their field, and well-equipped to deliver nursing degrees. However, the Colleges Ontario report shows a disturbing lack of respect for, and awareness of, what it takes to deliver on their promises,” said Thomas.

At stake is how college baccalaureate degrees are treated when students seek to pursue further study or have their credentials recognized internationally. Students who graduate with degrees from institutions that are not members of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC) face significant challenges pursuing further education and having their degrees recognized.

Ontario colleges cannot join AUCC because colleges refuse to give faculty academic freedom 

Membership in AUCC signals to other post-secondary institutions in Canada and globally that the degree is credible, and that the institution meets the internationally recognized requirements to deliver degree outcomes.

Ontario’s colleges are not eligible for membership in AUCC, because they refuse to give college faculty academic freedom and control over curriculum content.

“Ontario colleges are certainly capable of delivering quality nursing degrees, but the recognition of these degrees is undermined by the fact that college faculty are denied academic freedom on par with university faculty. If students are to receive a quality academic degree from Ontario colleges, faculty experts must determine what is taught — not managers, not bureaucrats, and not corporations,” said JP Hornick, Chair of OPSEU’s College Faculty Divisional Executive.

OPSEU/NUPGE represents more than 12,000 faculty at Ontario colleges.


The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE

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