Sheridan College

Mr. Thomas E. Clarke
Stargate Consultants Limited

Dear Mr. Clarke:

I am writing in response to our telephone conversation related to your report, "Reasons for and the Impact of the Recent Decline in Enrolment in the Technology Programs of the Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology in Ontario", published in May 1990.

Subsequent to our discussion, the Executive Committee of the Heads of Technology of the colleges of applied arts and technology reviewed and discussed the recommendations in your report at our recent meeting. That meeting directed me to respond to you in order to convey highlights of our feedback and reaction to the report.

The initial reaction of the executive members noted the relevancy of the report (although the study was conducted some 13 years ago) to our present day situation. There was acceptance and appreciation that the two root causes identified in your report are still germane today.

Having said that, there has also been progress made and success achieved in relation to a number of the recommendations presented in your report.

Rather than comment on each specific recommendation, allow me to make a more summarized response.

In terms of the recommendations addressed to colleges of applied arts and technology (these being #ís 2,3,9,12,13,15, and 17) we are pleased to say there has been positive movement in many of these areas. While "Pre-Technology" programs may not be in every college, there have been a number of successful attempts to develop and implement these types of programs to encourage and support students entering technology-related programs. As well, there is a strong connection between the colleges and employers in the area of developing and offering co-operative education programs that meet the needs of employers, students, and the colleges.

We are also pleased to say that all diploma-level programs of instruction in colleges of applied arts and technology include general education courses and generic skills outcomes to promote a broadening of the studentís education beyond a specific vocational field of study.

The introduction and development of a new secondary school curriculum has again underlined the need for, and presented an opportunity for, action in the area of increased substantive liaison between the colleges and the secondary schools. This liaison includes a sharing of information and understanding of programming in both the secondary schools and the colleges, and an important dialogue concerning admission and selection requirements by technology programs and the resulting necessary academic pre-requisites required by incoming students.

Colleges generally continue to look at program design and delivery with an eye to creating and offering programs of instruction that meet the needs of employers and students, in an effective and efficient manner.

We also noted that some of the recommendations in your report were directed primarily at what is now the Ministry of Education (the current ministry with responsibility for primary and secondary education in the province) and others primarily directed at the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (the current ministry with responsibility for post-secondary education and training). While we are unable to comment on behalf of either Ministry, it may be off interest to let you know our view of some of the developments in these areas since your report was published.

With respect to the recommendations directed to the Ministry of Education (#ís 22, 23, 24, and 26), it is of note that, as mentioned above, a new secondary school curriculum has been developed and is being implemented to respond to the governmentís decision to move to a 4-year secondary school model from the former 5-year model. We at the colleges continue to discuss and monitor these changes to the curriculum and are awaiting the first graduates of the new curriculum expected in September 2003. We believe many of the points raised in the recommendations remain valid and are being addressed through our attempts to market technology programs more effectively.

In our view, the remaining recommendations were seemingly addressed to the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities. Again, while we cannot comment for the Ministry, we are pleased to note that there have been a number of positive developments in some of the areas highlighted by the report. The following is a brief summary of some of these developments:

In 2001, the government passed the Postsecondary Choice and Excellence Act, which in part allows for a pilot project under which colleges of applied arts and technology may develop and offer programs of instruction leading to an Applied Degree, at an undergraduate level. This pilot project is just beginning, and of the 23 proposals submitted for approval, six were for Bachelor of Applied Technology programs. A second round of applications will be submitted to the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities in May 2002, and it is expected that these submissions will include a number of proposals for Bachelor of Applied Technology programs as well.

Since 1995 the government has developed, approved, and released 178 program standards for programs of instruction offered through the colleges of applied arts and technology (110 for English-language programs and 68 for French-language programs). These standards, which include a vocational standard, a generic skills standard, and a general education requirement, are applicable to the programs of instruction offered by the college system, and result in addressing the fourth recommendation of your report. For more information, please visit the web site at http:// .

Our Heads of Technology group is currently working with a number of partners to develop a substantial and integrative approach to marketing technology careers (and therefore technology programs) for secondary and elementary school audiences (students and teachers).

Many colleges have developed approaches to marketing programs including hosting "open houses" to attract and inform potential students, parents, high school guidance counsellors, and community members. These events happen on an annual basis and are proving to be popular and successful.

All technology programs in the colleges are supported by community-based Program Advisory Committees that assist in the identification of new program areas, potential changes and revisions required to programs, the need for and availability of cooperative education experiences for students, and create a solid relationship between the college, the program, and local employers.

Once again let me thank you for drawing the report to our attention. As stated earlier, this response is summary in nature and intended to let you know that while the root causes may continue to have relevance, there have been many positive changes made that we are pleased to celebrate.

Sincerely yours,

Elizabeth Theriault, Ph.D.
Chair, Executive of the Heads of Technology
Dean of Technology, Sheridan College