The Province of Ontario will not back a proposal from the Université de Sudbury to create a standalone Francophone university in Greater Sudbury.
In an unattributed statement on background issued just before 4 p.m. on June 30, the Ministry of Colleges and Universities said the proposal and associated funding request to create a standalone Francophone university in the city “does not reflect the current demand and enrolment trends.”
This is especially true, the statement continues, because there is already “existing capacity” in Greater Sudbury and across Ontario to offer French-language programming.
“The Ministry considered a number of factors to reach this decision, and it is one that we have not made lightly,” the statement reads.
Part of what was considered is a report from the Postsecondary Education Quality Assessment Board (PEQAB), which conducted an organization review of the Université de Sudbury. In evaluating the proposal, the ministry said it conducted a review of a number of factors, including labour market data, the increase of student interest in STEM disciplines and trades, and the Université de Sudbury’s proposals for complementary project funding under the Canada-Ontario Agreement on Minority Language Education and Second Official Language Instruction.
Although it denied the Université de Sudbury proposal, the ministry said it will “continue to work with all of our Francophone education institutes to help deliver high quality postsecondary education for northern and francophone communities.”
It has been more than two years since the University de Sudbury announced its plans to become an autonomous French-language university under the principle of governance “by and for” the Francophone community.
It made the decision to transform its operations to serve the Francophone community in the weeks before Laurentian University announced it was terminating the federation agreement going back to LU’s founding 60 years before.
A press conference was held by a number of politicians and community members June 2 to demand the province take action to make the Université de Sudbury project a reality.
Among those who spoke at the press conference were NDP MPPs France Gélinas and Guy Bourgouin, Joanne Gervais, executive director of the Association canadienne-française de l’Ontario du grand Sudbury (ACFO) and Denis Constantineau, spokesperson for the Northern Ontario Coalition for a French-Language University.
Constantineau sent a June 2 open letter to Ontario Minister of Colleges and Universities Jill Dunlop about the issue.
“At the rate things are going, there won't be any programming offered by an institution by, for and with Francophones until September 2025!” said Constantineau, in his letter. “This is unacceptable. Our young people are paying the price, as is our regional economy.”
Read the full statement from the ministry below:
Following careful review, the Ministry of Colleges and Universities has determined that the proposal from the Université de Sudbury, including the request for funding to create a standalone French-language university, does not reflect the current demand and enrolment trends, especially given the already existing capacity of postsecondary institutions to offer French-language programs in the Greater Sudbury area and across Ontario. As a result, the Ministry will not provide funding to the university.
The Ministry considered a number of factors to reach this decision, and it is one that we have not made lightly. This includes the independent Postsecondary Education Quality Assessment Board’s (PEQAB) organization review of the Université de Sudbury; a review of labour market data, in relation to program offerings; the increase of student interest in disciplines such as science, technology and trades; the need for institutional collaboration to better meet the needs of students in market-driven programs and the Université de Sudbury’s proposals for complementary project funding under the Canada-Ontario Agreement on Minority Language Education and Second Official Language Instruction.
The Ministry is committed to putting students first. This includes maximizing student choice and supporting student access to French-language postsecondary education and preparing them to succeed in rewarding careers. We will continue to work with all of our Francophone education institutes to help deliver high quality postsecondary education for northern and francophone communities.