A new role

Now that we are just about at the peak of student enrolment at our post-secondary institutions, what should be their role in coming years? Clearly, all their talent should be fully utilized.

This writer is indebted to Dr. Frano Vaccarino, president of the University of Guelph, for his recent comments on this subject.

First of all, post-secondary institutions can and do convey a sense of culture and attitude to a community.

Through partnerships post-secondary institutions should form strong ties with the community’s cultural activities.

The learning process is undergoing unprecedented changes. Knowledge is advancing at a revolutionary pace. What is evolving so rapidly is that a centre of learning must be ready to adapt. Students, in fact the general population, must be prepared for the jobs that are been created. Universities are well qualified to implement these trends.

The new jobs/ideas come from separate disciplines that only a university can supply, from nations such as Asian countries that have been so innovative. Universities are particularly aware of what is going on in the world today.

Unfortunately, too many are entering post-secondary centres lacking basic skills that should have been learned in high school. Critical thinking needs some basic training before students can understand the main parts of essential analysis. Thus, grammar and mathematics are so lacking that they have to be taught at the university level. It is necessary to go backward thus before we can go forward. Perhaps in summer periods refreshing elementary courses should be provided.

Knowledge of agriculture can be helpful, using farm crops to create materials used in many parts of industrial production. There are places, such as the University of Guelph, that specialize in agricultural science and are repositories of material on this subject. If they were provided to the community at large, innovation can follow. Hence, primary research that universities are well equipped to offer should be made available for production.

We should hope that solving some of the difficulties besetting companies is an area where institutions could be a great help. Also, partnerships, possibly with think tanks, could be rewarding.

Thus, post-secondary institutions continue to assist us in the contemporary world. They are needed now as much as ever.


Bruce Whitestone