Ontario’s francophone university unites old dreams and new pedagogy

The teaching philosophy at the long-awaited institution is based on interdisciplinary programmes and experiential instruction, says its president Pierre Ouellette

二月 14, 2022
Canadian francophone
Source: Getty

Francophones in Ontario have been waiting for a long, long time. But in September 2021, the wait was finally over with the opening of a university “by and for” the French-speaking population in Canada’s largest province. It complements the province’s existing French-language education system, which runs from early childhood to higher education.

The Université de l’Ontario français (UOF) is in Canada’s largest city, Toronto, which is home to a growing global and intercultural hub where all francophones are represented. With nearly 620,000 French-speaking people in Ontario and the growth of francophone immigration to Canada, UOF is the unifying option for francophones, as it forms a new generation of leaders.

Building a tradition of French-language university studies in central and southwestern Ontario is essential to ensuring the sustainability of Ontario’s francophone community. This means having UOF recognised as a major player for all, making it a gathering place for the knowledge and leadership of the region’s francophones and francophiles and becoming the indispensable ally the community has always wanted. Francophones in Canada, who are also bilingual or multilingual, will develop skills that are aligned with the needs of today’s workplace through UOF’s innovative programmes and approaches to teaching and learning.

The first cohort
Our ongoing student recruitment work is centred on raising awareness about UOF to everyone in order to maximise the number of people who choose to attend our university. The focus is on young Ontarians attending the province’s French-language secondary schools, but we are also reaching out to the wider global francophone community.

In its first year of operation, UOF attracted nearly 150 students to enrol in one of its bachelor’s or micro-certificate programmes. That said, UOF is still in its eight-year start-up phase. As with any new educational institution, the university needs time to promote its programmes and to recruit a critical mass of students. The university will be in a better position to talk about its impact on the community as we progress through the start-up phase up to 2027.

Transdisciplinarity and the experiential approach
The complexity of the times we live in requires a more holistic approach to education. UOF offers programmes aimed at better understanding our modern world and its ever-changing issues. We see the university as an innovative institution focused on creating and mobilising knowledge in French to train the leaders of tomorrow.

To achieve this, UOF has taken a transdisciplinary approach to teaching and learning. Our teaching philosophy is based on inductive and experiential instructional strategies. Courses, work placements and workshops enable students to develop knowledge as well as skills that facilitate their transition to employment and social engagement.

Through transdisciplinary programmes, UOF enables its students to navigate disciplines that are no longer seen as silos of independent study but rather as complementary to other disciplines. Courses are focused on issues rather than subjects.

The university offers four undergraduate degree programmes: urban environments; human plurality; economics and social innovation; and digital cultures, which are all based on the humanities or social sciences and aligned with some of the major issues of our time. The university is already working to add other programmes in the coming years, including a bachelor’s of education to address the francophone teacher shortage in Ontario.

UOF has collected best practices from its peers, such as the idea of having small classes, focusing on a transdisciplinary approach to learning, opting for innovative programmes and ensuring that its students are involved in the community.

We will continue to build on such strategies, modernising and reinventing our pedagogical model to foster excellence and to train generations of leaders and workers.

Pierre Ouellette is president and vice-chancellor of Université de l’Ontario français.

View the THE Young University Rankings 2022 results


Print headline: Enfin! A delayed debut



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