Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology degrees in applied areas of study
The Post-secondary Education Choice and Excellence Act, 2000 for the first time enabled Ontario’s Colleges of Applied arts and Technology to apply for Ministerial consent to offer applied baccalaureate degree programs. In accordance with the terms of Act, the Minister referred 52 applications received under the terms of a pilot project to the Postsecondary Education Quality Assessment Board for its review and recommendation. After completing thorough assessments of each program, including extensive involvement of independent quality assessors, the Board recommended that 35 of the 52 programs be granted Ministerial consent. Twelve were recommended in the first round of the competition, 23 in the second round. All the recommendations were accepted by the Minister.
Following passage of the Act, the government approved a “pilot project” of up to 24 applied degree programs for which the colleges would submit proposals for assessment. The overarching aim of the pilot project was to determine the capacity of the colleges to develop proposals for high-quality degree programs. In a letter dated October 18, 2001, the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities asked the Board to administer the competition, taking into account criteria stated in that letter as well as the Board’s own criteria. The Minister indicated that the competition would take place in two rounds, with consent for up to 12 programs that best met the criteria in each round.
In anticipation of the pilot project, the Board had developed a Handbook for Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology: Pilot Project that outlined the Board’s standards, benchmarks and procedures for this category of degree program. The applications were assessed against the standards and benchmarks contained in the Handbook. It was revised slightly for the second round.
The deadline for the first round of submissions was December 3, 2001. The colleges submitted 22 applications to the Minister, of which, after review, 12 were recommended by the Board to the Minister for consent in a letter dated March 7, 2002 The Minister granted consent for each of those 12 programs.
The deadline for the second round was May 6, 2002. The colleges submitted 30 applications to the Minister, six of them re-submissions from the first round.
It became clear during the review of second round submissions that variations in academic standards among the applications required the Board to clarify its minimum expectations with respect to three of its benchmarks: Benchmark 2.6 (Admissions, Promotions and Graduation Requirements) and Benchmarks 4.3 and 4.4(a) (Faculty Qualifications Policy). The changes are reflected in the Handbook currently available on this web site. Drawing these clarifications to the attention of the Minister, the Board recommended that consent be granted with the condition that programs should meet those minimum expectations.
During the review, it also became clear that more than 12 applications could be recommended in the second round if some other minor revisions or clarifications were made to the submissions. Thus, on October 21, 2002, the Minister gave fresh direction to the Board, asking it to recommend “all of those programs beyond twelve that meet or can be revised to meet the Board’s criteria and standards within a short period of time.”
On October 22, 2002, the Board discussed the Minister’s new direction and reviewed all programs that in its view had not yet satisfied its criteria but might be improved to meet the standards with minimum revisions. In doing so, it distinguished between information from applicants that would require further expert assessment and other information. Additional information was not sought from applicants in cases where the Board concluded that revisions would require expert assessment.
On November 4, 2002, the Board reviewed the Colleges’ responses and formulated its recommendations to the Minister. As a result, the Board recommended 23 programs from the second round. The Board’s recommendations are contained in the Board chair’s letter to the Minister dated November 12, 2002.
In total, the pilot project involved review of 52 proposals or re-submitted proposals, of which 35 from 19 colleges were recommended to the Minister for consent. The Board drew on the expert advice of 165 program quality assessors.
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