Not enough students to fill university satellite campuses, expert says
Laurentian to close Barrie campus, Nipissing to close Muskoka campus: Why aren't these campuses working?
An education expert says the closure of two satellite campuses in the last few weeks is a symptom of a larger problem with post-secondary education in Ontario.
"Ontario has gone a bit crazy in terms of expanding its post secondary system," said Ken Coates, who has written about higher education and the problem with Ontario's pursuit of satellite campuses.
"[The province] couldn't see an educational opportunity they thought was a bad one."
Coates said the last decade has seen rapid growth on campuses across the country, with more and more spaces being offered.
"Had we not done so, there would have been really good opportunities to create satellite campuses. But we've done both," he said.
"We have everybody scrambling after the same declining number of students, particularly outside of the greater Toronto area. There are not enough students to go around."
Coates said he had a feeling Laurentian's plans in Barrie would not succeed.
"There was great excitement that it was going to grow like crazy. And I was forecasting that it wasn't likely to succeed."
Coates said satellite campuses work if programs are specialized and there's a community demand. But in the case of Barrie, students would likely choose a school in the GTA.
Province says Laurentian's campus plan just didn't meet the cut
The minister of Colleges, Training and Universities says it's not the province's fault that Laurentian is shutting down its Barrie campus, even though Laurentian University's president and the mayor of Barrie accuse the ministry of dooming the satellite campus by preventing it from expanding.
"The province has consistently refused to allow growth in Barrie," Barrie mayor Jeff Lehman said in a statement, adding the city has a growing population and is one of the largest in the country without its own university.
"We are the only city in the province which has had a moratorium on new university programs."
But minister Reza Moridi said that's not true.
Moridi says Laurentian's proposal for expansion in Barrie just didn't meet the cut.
More than a dozen different proposals for new campuses were put forward, and only one was given approval.
"With regards to setting up a campus in Barrie, the process was open, transparent, and their application, their proposal, simply did not meet the criteria. So there's no politics here," he said.
"When it comes to Laurentian University, we have increased their funding by 67 per cent. We have given them the school of medicine. We have given them the school of architecture."
Laurentian's satellite campus in Barrie has been in operation for 15 years and has 700 students. It will close by 2019.