The Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario
In a recent paper, The Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario’s (HEQCO) provides An Overview of Francophone Postsecondary Education Participation in Ontario that explores, among other things, the potential repercussions of having significantly limited options in French-language postsecondary education (PSE) in Ontario.
On the premise that education is needed to maintain prosperity, HEQCO’s report outlines the need for both equity and linguistic vitality in order to sustain a thriving Francophone Ontario:
- Equity: Are Francophones in Ontario participating in PSE at the same rate as their Anglophone counterparts? Are Francophone students choosing to pursue their postsecondary studies in French and does the postsecondary education system allow them to do so?
- Vitality: If Francophone communities are to thrive, they need to have options to speak, work and participate in the community at large, in their mother tongue.
The report findings include highlighting the need for more data to properly analyse the situation. According to the report, Francophone students in Ontario are accessing and graduating from postsecondary institutions at a comparable rate to their Anglophone counterparts, but the available data excludes certain Francophone groups and does not reflect the current diversity of Francophones pursuing PSE in Ontario.
However, the lack of French language program offering and geographical locations continue to be significant barriers in maintaining the linguistic vitality of communities in Ontario.
Improving the representation of French-language PSE landscape in education, especially in Central-Southwestern Ontario has been a big concern of mine and I am pleased to see HEQCO broach this subject in their recently published paper.
I would also like to take this opportunity to highlight the fact that we still haven’t received an update from the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities with regards to the first two recommendations in my report which both focus on improving the collection of data:
- Expanding the collection of data from French-language education of rights-holders to include immersion students, those who belong to exogamous and allophone households, as well as Francophiles.
- Using the Ontario Education Number (OEN), linked with linguistics variables, throughout students’ academic life, from early learning to postsecondary and beyond. The OEN should also be amended to include language-based questions that are based on multiple questions or indicators, versus a single-factor indicator.