Ontario universities are at the forefront of Canadian efforts to ensure that students, employers and universities in other jurisdictions know what skills, knowledge and understanding students have gained from their programs, according to a recent report about the new approach to quality assurance at the province’s universities.
Ensuring the Value of University Degrees in Ontario explains how universities define degree level expectations – the intellectual and creative development that students will acquire from a particular degree, and how these expectations are integrated into curriculum and the learning outcomes of specific courses.
Degree level expectations and learning outcomes are at the heart of Ontario’s new Quality Assurance Framework, which sets out requirements for approval of new programs by the independent Quality Council, for cyclical reviews by the universities, and for periodic auditing by the Quality Council.
“Across all academic programs, our faculty and staff are actively engaged in defining what students acquire at every degree level,” says Alastair Summerlee, Chair of the Council of Ontario Universities (COU) and President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Guelph. “Our students are the beneficiaries of this commitment to quality assurance, which ensures that Ontario university degrees are respected locally and internationally by graduate schools and employers.”
Ontario’s degree level expectations and quality assurance framework were developed in the context of international efforts to create more comparable, compatible and coherent higher education systems. They are also aligned with a directive from the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC), which called for the provinces to develop more detailed frameworks that describe degree credentials.
“Ontario’s quality assurance system is one of the strongest in the world. We have been quick to evolve in response to international trends and internal demands for mechanisms that protect the quality of our degrees and set out clearly the learning outcomes students will have achieved at graduation,” says Bonnie Patterson, COU President and CEO.
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