I was sorry to hear that the University of Guelph is planning to close the two agriculture colleges.
I thought agriculture enrollment was increasing.
Were these colleges losing money? Would seem to be the rationale for closing them?
March 12, 2014 - News Release
The University of Guelph will consolidate the academic and research programs delivered at its Kemptville and Alfred campuses in order to improve efficiency, ensure quality and best serve the agri-food sector, said U of G president Alastair Summerlee.
“We are operating in an era of scarce resources,” Summerlee said. “We must make difficult decisions together with changes that minimize duplication and preserve programs that are unique and central to our mission.”
The University also has an important responsibility to help sustain the productivity and vitality of Ontario’s agriculture and food industry, Summerlee said. “This requires us to respond to current and future challenges while meeting the needs of an evolving sector.”
As part of the consolidation plan, intake to academic programs at the Alfred and Kemptville campuses will be suspended for the fall 2014 semester. The University’s Ridgetown Campus will remain open.
Delivery of academic programs at the two campuses will cease by the end of 2015. Currently registered students at both campuses will be able to complete their programs.
The University is working with other Francophone institutions in the area as well as various Ontario government ministries to explore opportunities to offer similar programs for Ontario students who have applied for fall admission in Eastern Ontario.
Research projects at Alfred and Kemptville will be completed or relocated to Guelph or Ridgetown by the end of 2015.
The University is expected to continue to manage field crops research facilities at Alfred and Kemptville. Programs delivered through the New Liskeard Agricultural Research Station will remain unaffected for the immediate future.
Improved efficiencies will allow the University to reinvest in strategic areas that further support Ontario’s agri-food sector, including new research appointments at the Guelph campus, Summerlee said.
U of G has managed research and education programs and related facilities at Alfred and Kemptville since 1997.
Despite efforts over the past several years to introduce new revenue-generating educational programs and attract new students, enrolment at both campuses remains stagnant while operating costs have increased. Costs per full-time equivalent student are substantially higher at these campuses, Summerlee said.
Only 61 students are registered at the Alfred campus, with approximately half coming from outside Ontario.
At Kemptville, 128 students are enrolled in the mandated two-year associate diploma programs. Its largest program is the associate diploma in agriculture; the same program is offered at Ridgetown.
Another 51 Kemptville-based students are enrolled in the four-year bachelor of bio-resource management (BBRM) equine management degree. Those students spend two years at Kemptville and two years at Guelph.
“There are opportunities to strengthen the core of the program by centralizing it at Guelph,” Summerlee said. A similar Ridgetown BBRM program will also be moved to the Guelph campus.
Currently, it costs about $4.6 million a year to support teaching, research, operations and maintenance at Kemptville, and nearly $2.3 million at Alfred. There are also substantial indirect costs for things such as animal care, student support services and health and safety. “Clearly, this is not sustainable,” Summerlee said.
Consolidating the regional campus programs will eliminate upwards of 37 full-time positions at Alfred and 75 at Kemptville, as well as a number of part-time and casual workers.
“We regret that valued employees will be affected by this decision,” Summerlee said. “This action is in no way a reflection on the importance of their past contributions. These are difficult decisions but ones that are necessary and unavoidable.”
He said the University will work closely with employee group leaders to provide relocation counselling, severance allowances and other assistance to support laid-off employees.
There will be a few opportunities for transfers to Guelph or Ridgetown to support the consolidated teaching and research efforts of the University.
Decisions about programs that may be transferred to Guelph or Ridgetown, or continued in another format, will be made in the near future.
“Our focus must continue to be on providing training that best supports the province’s priorities for agri-food research, education and outreach,” Summerlee said.