Toronto

Ontario's French university receives only 19 applications from province's students

After much pushback and protest kept Universite de l'Ontario Francais alive, the new French language school has only received 19 applications from Ontario students as of Jan. 17.

Start of the school year will go ahead as planned in September, school's vice-rector says

Vice-rector Denis Berthiaume told Radio-Canada that the start of the school year will go ahead as planned in September, regardless of the number of confirmed students. (Hilary Duff/CBC)

After much pushback and protest kept Universite de l'Ontario Francais alive, the new French language school has only received 19 applications from Ontario students as of Jan. 17.

Vice-rector Denis Berthiaume confirmed that the University has also received around 20 additional admission requests from abroad or from adults who are considering a return to school. That brings the total number of requests received so far to 39.

Rector André Roy had previously said the school's goal was to have 200 students for its first semester, which is scheduled to begin this September.

Admission applications can still be submitted, but Jan. 17 was the first deadline in the university calendar across the province.

The applications also don't mean that students will necessarily choose the university, which is located in downtown Toronto, if they are admitted, as students can apply for admission to multiple programs.

Berthiaume told Radio-Canada that the start of the school year will go ahead as planned in September, no matter the number of confirmed students. 

'Everything will be ready'

He also said that courses will meet any student needs, whether in person or virtually, if circumstances require.

"Faculty teams are being recruited, the building is being finished, so everything will be ready," he said.

Other universities, like Guelph, Brock and some Western University campuses, have also experienced a decrease in the number of admissions received this year compared to 2020.

The Université de Hearst, another Franco-Ontarian institution that is affiliated with Laurentian University, received 17 applications, which is half the number of last year.

It's been a rocky road for Universite de l'Ontario Francais. The project was first announced under Kathleen Wynne's Liberal government, but after Doug Ford's Progressive Conservative government was elected, it was nixed.

The province reversed that decision following protests from Franco-Ontarians and extended talks with the federal government.

An agreement reached between the federal and provincial governments in 2019 provides funding of $126 million over eight years for the university.

In an emailed statement, Francophone Affairs Minister Caroline Mulroney reiterated the Ontario government's commitment to the university, but did not comment on the low number of admission requests.

"Our government is proud to have concluded a historic agreement with the federal government for the creation of the University of French Ontario, under which each level of government will invest, in equal parts, $63 million over a period of eight years," she wrote.

With files from Radio-Canada

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