2 northern Ontario institutions to be come independent universities, government says

File photo. RAMAT GAN, March 16, 2021 Students study in a classroom as COVID-19 restrictions are eased at Bar Ilan University on the first day of a new semester at central Israeli city of Ramat Gan on March 14, 2021. © Gideon Markowicz/Xinhua via ZUMA Press

Two post-secondary institutions in northern Ontario will soon become independent universities with degree-granting authority.

The province says the Northern Ontario School of Medicine University and Universite de Hearst will be established as standalone, independent institutions as of April 1.

The government says the universities will have independent governance and administration, giving them flexibility to expand on their existing degree programs and explore offering more programs in communities across northern Ontario.

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Minister of Colleges and Universities Jill Dunlop says the government recognizes that northern institutions are “essential” to ensuring that there is a skilled workforce in the north of the province.

NOSM University offers medical training, while Universite de Hearst offers French-language education.

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Previously, NOSM was affiliated with Laurentian University and Lakehead University, while Hearst was an affiliate of Laurentian University.

Sarita Verma, president, vice chancellor and dean of NOSM University, says this is a “profound and historic moment for the NOSM community.”

Luc Bussieres, president of Universite de Hearst, says becoming fully independent marks “a significant milestone” for the institution.

The province notes that NOSM University has contributed to the establishment of more than 700 medical professionals in northern Ontario since it was created in 2005, while Universite de Hearst is the only university offering French-language programs in smaller northern Ontario communities.

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