Ontario universities are advising against granting stand-alone nursing degree programs at colleges

Ontario’s universities are advising the province against a request by the province’s colleges that they be allowed to offer stand-alone nursing degree programs.

“Some time ago, the province agreed that patient care had become so complex that nurses needed research, theory, critical thinking and practice in order to be prepared,” Bonnie M. Patterson, President and CEO of the Council of Ontario Universities, said today.

“As a result, the government made a policy decision to move to collaborations between universities and colleges. This collaboration continues to bring benefits to thousands of students, postsecondary institutions, and Ontario’s health care system.”

Recently, consultants examining the college proposal for stand-alone nursing degree programs on behalf of the province urged caution, concluding that it could not assess fully whether colleges are ready to offer such programs given the need for quality assurance, and noting the potential negative consequences of breaking up the collaborations.

The government has invested heavily in a collaborative approach to nursing education, and switching away from a system that is working would produce an unnecessary financial burden on a province working to eliminate its deficit.

Ontario already graduates almost 4,000 nurses a year, and accrediting more programs and increasing enrolment would make it difficult to find enough clinical placements at a time when placements are already hard to find.

“Our universities are deeply committed to making collaborations work well for students, nurses and their patients, and we encourage colleges to continue to work in partnerships with us,” says Patterson.

Last year – at the province’s request – Ontario’s colleges and universities successfully negotiated a series of mandate agreements with the province that clearly demonstrated the distinctive opportunities they offer students. Offering stand-alone nursing degree programs at universities and at colleges is inconsistent with the province’s goals of differentiation to build on institutions’ respective strengths, to avoid duplication of programs, and to support collaboration across the postsecondary sector.


COU is a membership organization of 21 publicly assisted universities in Ontario. It works closely with the provincial and federal governments to shape public policies that help universities deliver high-quality programs for students and advance the research and innovation that improves the social, cultural and economic well-being of Ontarians.

Follow us on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter

For further information, please contact:

Wendy McCann
Director, Strategic Communications and Media Relations
416-979-2165 ext. 233
647-271-0825 (Cell)
Email Wendy McCann