Lakehead University and Confederation College are defining the ways they stand out from other colleges and universities across the province.

It's part of a new provincial funding exercise where institutions identify their top ten strengths, and then reduce that list to five priority areas for growth. Those strategic mandate agreements were made public for the first time last week.

Moira McPherson

Moira McPherson, vice-president of academics at Lakehead Unversity says Lakehead's faculty of education sees post-graduate studies as an area of potential growth. (Lakehead University)

"It actually has been a very positive exercise because it allowed us to really crystallize what we're doing," said Lakehead's interim provost and vice-president academic Moira McPherson.

Lakehead Unversity's proposed areas for growth are:

  1. Business, Entrepreneurship, and Innovation
  2. Engineering
  3. Health Sciences/Health and Medicine 
  4. Social Justice/Aboriginal Emphasis
  5. Sustainability

Education is missing from the list at a university that has long been known for teacher training. But McPherson said that doesn't mean the education faculty isn't a priority.

"We have a very healthy and thriving graduate education set of programs at the masters level and also at the PhD level," McPherson said.

"We really see as a area of growth for us, our graduate programs in education and specifically the specializations they have in those programs around social justice, meeting the needs of Aboriginal learners, Aboriginal communities and also around sustainability."

Jim Madder

Confederation College president Jim Madder says the college specializes in preparing students to learn in a post-secondary environment. (Jody Porter/CBC)

Confederation College president Jim Madder said his institution is focusing on preparing students for post-secondary learning.

"Unfortunately northwestern Ontario has a really low high school completion rate compared to many other parts of the province," Madder said. 

"So we're absolutely committed to doing things like pre-flight, pre-health, pre-techonology. All of the 'pre' programs to bring people's numeracy, literacy and technical skills up to a level [where] they will be successful."

Madder said a new marketing campaign to recruit students from southern Ontario will help fill up classrooms in many of its trades and technology courses.

Confederation College's proposed areas for growth include:

  1. Health & Community Service
  2. Trades/Technology and Engineering
  3. Access & Pre-programming
  4. Business

The strategic mandate agreements guide the institutions until 2017.