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Would serve growing francophone community in southwestern Ontario

Andrew Ikeman | Fulcrum Staff

Photo by Justin Labelle

Southwestern Ontario has one of the fastest-growing francophone communities in Ontario, and that is something the University of Ottawa wants to capitalize on. The U of O is examining the possibility of opening a satellite campus in the region whose primary focus will be French-language education.

According to U of O President Allan Rock, the university is currently exploring whether it would be viable to open a satellite campus in the region. The plans are still in their early stages.

“What we are looking at is the possibility of opening up a satellite campus somewhere in that part of the province, which would enable us to provide French-language instruction to that growing population [of francophones in the region],” said Rock. “We have to think of cost, availability of professors to provide the courses—whether online might be able to help with that—so we are examining that whole question.”

The university is basing its decision to investigate the satellite campus on a report by Ontario’s French Language Services Commissioner François Boileau. The report recommended that in response to the increasing population of francophones in southwestern Ontario, the provincial government establish post-secondary education in the region.

“With the rapid growth of central-southwestern Ontario’s francophone population, it is more critical than ever to remedy the insufficient number of colleges and universities in that region that offer French-language programs and services,” said Boileau in an email to the Fulcrum. “These deficiencies have the effect of pulling the rug out from under elementary and secondary students, newcomers, and francophiles who want to pursue a post-secondary education in French. The same could be said of the self-serving interest of the government in maintaining and improving its capacity to provide the public with quality French-language services.”

The commissioner also believes that the University of Ottawa may be a key player in the region. According to Rock, the university is currently working on a report to submit to the senate and the Board of Administration on the subject. The location, courses, and a timetable for the possible construction of the satellite campus are still undecided, but Rock hopes to have the completed report by the end of the school year.

Rock was adamant that the new campus would not take away from what is taught in the main campus.

“The idea is not in any way to diminish what we are doing here, but rather to replicate it there, for the convenience of the French-language population that wants access to university courses,” he said. “As to which courses would be taught, again it’s very early in the process.”