By Rob Pollock
Barrie, Ontario is the largest urban area in the province without a university – Laurentian University wants to change that fact.
“Our students, faculty and staff in Barrie have asked for their own campus, and they deserve it,” says Dominic Giroux, the president of Laurentian University.
The campus would be located in downtown Barrie with state-of- the-art, modern facilities, parking areas, and student service buildings and residences. This is all part of a strategic 10-year capital plan that runs through 2020.
The cost for the expansion is high, running at $60 million. The main contributors are Laurentian and the city, funding $14 million each, and $40 million from the government.
Giroux said none of the money will come out of the pocket of Sudbury students:
“The University’s $14-million capital contribution will be paid by the savings from no longer having to pay for the use of the current space at Georgian College and on Bell Farm Road in Barrie (faculty offices).”
The Simcoe area has a population of 474,000 and is estimated to grow 35 per cent by 2036. Many university students in the area have to leave the community to attend school. A university located in Barrie will allow those students to receive a local university education.
Research Canada found that students that live more than 80 kilometers from a university are much less likely to attend. Barrie follows these statistics with only 13 per cent of Barrie citizens having a university degree compared to 21 per cent provincially.
Currently, Barrie has 1,000 students. The expansion would increase enrolment to 3,000 students, allowing access to new courses.
SGA Vice-President of Student Issues, Mark Mancini, adds: “programs will be developed at both campuses that will suit the strengths of the student bodies and respective cities.”
Potential new programs being implemented are security, communications infrastructure engineering, data centre design, and cognitive analytics, which is the first undergraduate degree program in North America in this field.
A number of programs would allow for co-operative education opportunities. These placements will give students experience in “emerging fields like cloud computing, environmental science, data mining, and business analytics,” states Giroux. Adding, one of the main advantages for students is they will receive “real-world opportunities to interact with a wide range of experts.”
Satellite schools are not uncommon in Ontario. For example: Lakehead in Orillia, Nipissing has several campuses in Brantford and Muskoka, Wilfrid Laurier in Brantford, Kitchener and Toronto, and Trent has a campus in Oshawa.