Federal funds for University of Sudbury a 'step in the right direction,' francophone group says
Money from feds good news, but not enough to repair damage in community, Denis Constantineau says
A francophone advocacy group says a recent federal grant to the University of Sudbury is a good start, but it's not going to repair damage done to French education in the region.
On Friday, the federal government promised $1.9 million over two years to the University of Sudbury; money which is expected to help the small university complete an organizational review that is necessary for all degree-granting institutions in Ontario.
Denis Constantineau, spokesperson for advocacy group Northern Ontario Coalition for a French-Language University, said it could be too little, too late, to stem the exodus of French students and instructors from the community.
"I have kind of mixed feelings," Constantineau said. "It's great news for the University of Sudbury. The federal government is putting cash on the table to help move the university along its process to being recognized by the province and have the capacity to deliver diplomas and actually offer programming."
"Unfortunately, it's another year and a half, two-year process," Constantineau said. "And we're definitely not going to see any programming for September."
The University of Sudbury was cast adrift by Laurentian as the latter navigated insolvency in February, 2021, severing ties with three federated schools– Huntington, Thorneloe and the University of Sudbury in an effort to reign in costs.
It was at that point, Constantineau said, the province should have acted. Without their support, students seeking an education in French turned elsewhere.
"Every day that goes by is a day where we're losing students and losing professors in the area here," Constantineau said. "And we're losing that capacity to attract people to the north."
Despite the good news about federal support, Constantineau said it's too early for students to start planning their classes on campus. First comes the long process of rebuilding.
"That's unfortunate because we're going to start with the smattering of programs and building from the ground up," he said. "We had a critical mass of students and professors here, before."
"And it's unfortunate that these processes take so long and that the province hasn't moved more quickly to put something in place, because now we're going to spend the next few years regaining lost ground."