Ontario universities are welcoming 2.5 per cent more students to their campuses this fall, reflecting 12 years of annual increases, according to the Council of Ontario Universities (COU).
“Students in our province place a strong emphasis on higher education knowing that two out of three jobs require a degree,” says Alastair Summerlee, Chair of COU and President of the University of Guelph. “At university, we are giving students the skills in critical thinking, problem solving and creativity to position them for success in the job market today, as well as providing them with the adaptability for new jobs that are expected to be created in future as the knowledge economy evolves.”
From 2004 to 2010, jobs grew by 28 per cent for those with a university degree, 17 per cent for those with a college credential and only 4 per cent for those with a high school education. While the economy poses employment challenges for youth, university graduates continue to have higher employment rates than other levels of education: nearly 94 per cent are employed within six months of graduation. They also earn approximately 32 per cent more annually than those with a college education and 53 per cent more than those with no postsecondary education. In addition, research suggests that university graduates tend to be healthier, live longer and are more active citizens.
Students continue to recognize the importance and advantages of university education: the total number of Ontario secondary school student confirmations rose this year by 2.4 per cent to 70,788 from 69,132 last year, according to statistics collected from the Ontario Universities’ Application Centre (OUAC). Non-secondary school applicant confirmations continue to rise as well, increasing this year by 3.1 per cent to 21,786 from 21,140 last year.
“Ontario universities are transforming the student experience by enhancing teaching and learning, developing more innovative programs, providing more experiential learning opportunities and utilizing technology in order to prepare students for our changing world,” says Bonnie M. Patterson, COU President and CEO. “We are also working intensively to expand the use and assessment of learning outcomes, which give students an assurance of what knowledge and skills they will acquire through completion of their courses and programs. All of these initiatives are being undertaken with a keen eye on ensuring the most productive use of resources.”
A COU report, Ensuring the Value of University Degrees in Ontario, expands on how learning outcomes are embedded in the development and assessment of university programs; another report, Beyond the Sage on the Stage, outlines some of the innovative teaching practices at Ontario universities. The reports are available on the COU website at www.cou.on.ca/publications/reports.
COU also developed the website, www.myeducationhasvalue.ca, to provide students with resources and helpful advice on preparing for university life and future careers.
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