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New consortium to ease credit transfers between Ontario universities

University of Toronto

Agreement between seven universities takes ministry, excluded universities by surprise

The University of Toronto is partnering with six other Ontario universities to launch a groundbreaking credit transfer program.

Under the new agreement, announced by provost Cheryl Misak at a town hall last week, students will be able to count any first year arts and science course taken for credit at one of the participating universities as a general credit at their primary institution. The agreement also mandates course equivalencies in over twenty of the most popular and high-enrolment courses.

Participating universities include McMaster, Queen’s, Guelph, Ottawa, Toronto, Waterloo, and Western.

The university also announced a new transfer program between Seneca College and UTSC. Liberal arts students at Seneca will be permitted to take courses at UTSC, and to count their credits towards a University of Toronto Bachelor of Arts degree. The first cohort of students able to apply for this program include those admitted to Seneca’s Liberal Arts program in fall 2011.

Both agreements are similar to a proposal featured in a discussion paper on the future of Ontario’s post-secondary education sector released by thethe Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities in June.

The paper, entitled Strengthening Ontario’s Centres of Creativity, Innovation and Knowledge, included a proposal that Ontario create a province-wide credit transfer agreement “to enhance student mobility between and among institutions, including between colleges and universities.”

Despite the similarity, news of the credit transfer initiative reportedly came as a surprise to Glen Murray, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities.

In an interview with the Toronto Star, Murray said he had been caught off guard, as had several university presidents who weren’t included in the agreement.

In the same interview, he stressed the need to include more universities in the initiative.

“We need an Ontario-wide system. I would ask that these universities get back to the table with their colleagues,” Murray told the Star. Notably, both York and Ryerson are absent from the credit transfer agreement.

The Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance called the agreement “progress”, but of a “limited” and “insufficient” sort.

Ryan McKinnon, Executive Director of OUSA, said it fell short of the 1995 Pan-Canadian Protocol on the Transferability of University Credits, which recommended that all courses taken in the first two years of university be transferable to any Canadian university.

“While achieving this aim may be difficult,” McKinnon wrote in a media statement, “We encourage the government to take steps to encourage that all Ontario students benefit from improved credit transfer, recognizing the advantages it presents for students and the province as a whole.”

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