It sometimes seems that the Toronto Star editors enjoy setting pontificating eggheads up for a fall. Professor George Fallis of York University appears to be their latest victim. Professor Fallis writes in today’s Star that Ontario does not need three new university campuses. He makes the argument, in an opinion page piece, that Ontario has enough campus capacity now. He believes that future growth in capacity will only force existing facilities to compete for enrolment. An attitude such as that can only draw derision from across the province.
The professor’s mindset seems to be off. First of all, we need more competition in Ontario. We hardly need to encourage any academics who believe that they do not have to work hard for the attention and attendance of their students. Professors also have a responsibility to keep fees and costs of higher education affordable for students. Academic tenure is not designed to encourage the lazy but to allow challenge and freedom of thinking. Learning must challenge minds not wallets.
The purpose behind the three new campuses is to bring university training and learning to more students across Ontario. We have to bring education to the students and that means going where the growth in population is happening. The day our universities have to compete for enrolment is when we can truly say we are doing the job of educating. Until then, we are denying higher education to those who want it. Education is not just for the professor’s elite.
Babel is one of those three academic centres that will benefit from the province’s promise of growth. Georgian College, based here, has successfully partnered with various universities across the province to bring expanded learning capabilities to central Ontario. Babel (or Barrie, if you insist) is not demanding another university of its own. The city believes that it is the breadth of learning that must be encouraged to help build a strong and varied economy.
Babel’s current mayor, started five years ago to build higher education possibilities. He worked on it before he was even in city politics. He created what is known as the Growing by Degrees task force to expand post-secondary opportunities in the city. The task force has been very successful in bringing more universities to partner in higher education in the city.
Babel respects learning. The city has recently joined with Sudbury-based Laurentian University to develop multi-million plans for a downtown campus that will not only help revitalize Babel’s downtown but build a new style of learning environment. Plans will hopefully include education facilities from kindergarten to PhD. Nor is the planning just for the young. Babel knows that learning is no longer a pastime but a lifetime.
Copyright 2012 © Peter Lowry
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