While a discussion is underway to investigate the possible establishment of a university at Cornwall, the idea of a establishing such an institution at Cornwall dates back over several decades. Beginning during the 1970’s, the University of Ottawa operated a satellite campus at Cornwall for several years. It offers several dozen local students the convenience of studying from Cornwall. However, enrollments never reached the numbers to have justified the establishment of an independent university campus in the city.
At the present day, nursing students may study at the university level at Cornwall and earn a degree in nursing, courtesy of an arrangement with an out-of-town university. Of the top 10-occupations that employ the greatest number of people in the general economy, only nursing requires a university degree while nursing assistants and personal support workers require a college diploma.
The remaining occupations include personnel employed by supermarkets and department stores as assistants and cashiers, waitresses, parking lot attendants, truck drivers and several other occupations that require no special college training.
In the USA, students graduating from institutions of higher learning have had a rude awakening, that being the lack of employment opportunities. Of university and college graduates who hold degrees, some 350,000 are employed as parking lot attendants while some 250,000 who work as waiters and waitresses. Some 1100 graduates who hold PHD degrees are employed as janitors. Graduates who hold social science degrees traditionally gravitated toward education (teaching) or employment in the civil service.
Advances in telecommunications and information sector technology have enhanced the convenience of distance learning. We have residents who live in this community who through modern distance learning via the internet, have obtained education and training from distant institutions and have been able to use that training toward career advancement in this city. Athabasca University is Canada’s leading institute in this regard, while University of Phoenix also offers a comprehensive choice of non-residential, distant learning opportunities.
Many courses of study are available on compact disc and allow interested students to “learn at their own pace”. This author enrolled is a distance-learning course offered from Australia in an area that usually intimidates the regular students. Except the “learn at your own pace” program of study was different to courses that required classroom attendance, allowing this learner to go through the course 3-times during the allotted amount of time. The method of presentation was very different to classroom lecturing.
An acquaintance who for several years worked as a long-distance truck driver, used his time behind the wheel to further his education courtesy of pre-recorded lectures made available through a distance learning program. He eventually earned a degree in law by making more productive use of his time on the road. As he traveled the road, he could “re-wind the tape” and replay sections of the material until he had fully understood the concepts presented, another form of learning at your own pace.
The world’s leading science and engineering university located at Boston, Massachusetts has put all their science and engineering courses online and accessible to anyone who is interested in furthering their understanding in these areas. While they cannot obtain a degree from the renowned institution without paying tuition, the entrepreneurial types may use the easily accessible educational material to expand their knowledge and understanding in areas of science and engineering. Courtesy of their “free” education, they could build a working scale model prototype.
The growing “open source innovation” sector economy may accept such a prototype or scale model as the equivalent to a diploma of qualification recognized by a growing list of companies and corporations worldwide. Many years ago, these companies may have hired engineers and/or science graduations, or perhaps engaged a group of consulting engineers. Now a growing number of companies are going the “open source innovation” route, opening doors of opportunity to inventive scientific and engineering types whose certificate of qualification may be a working scale model prototype of something in which a potential client or employer at a distant location may be interested.
As a group in Cornwall presently explores the possible establishment of a university campus in the city, universities worldwide face increasing competition from easy access to increasing variety of scientific and engineering education offered on compact discs and via the internet. Entrepreneurial types are finding ways to put their education in this regard, to productive use by building products or developing software for computers. Some of their associates or “employees” who have achieved a similar education have ongoing opportunities to creatively contribute to the competitiveness of their companies in local and international markets.
There was a time when the learning programs that are now available on CD’s and via the internet, were the exclusive domain of the colleges and universities. These institutions now face a level of competition in the academic instructional arena that had never previously existed. That competition has prompted a growing number of voices to question the relevance of the traditional institutions of higher learning, especially the entrepreneurial types who can put their “education” to productive use and them earn money by marketing the fruit of their productive endeavour to customers.
A cash-strapped provincial and similar municipal government that both need to curtail unnecessary expenditures and save where possible, may be asked to provide revenue to establish some form of university presence at Cornwall. That task may be far more formidable today that it was some 40-years ago when the University of Ottawa first established a satellite campus at Cornwall. At that point in time, correspondence schools such as ICS attracted only a small number of students from each city, perhaps barely enough from one region to fill a single classroom on a university campus. The growing competition in the arena of higher learning today would likely impact on plans to establish a university at Cornwall.