By Johanne Adam
The University of Ottawa has officially obtained designation for its services and academic programs in French under the French Language Services Act of Ontario.
This law guarantees the right to receive Ontario government services in French. This legislation applies not only to government agencies, but also to service-providing institutions that receive public funding and have been designated by the government, including certain hospitals and colleges.
The recent designation is a fundamental acknowledgement of the University of Ottawa’s commitment to the promotion and development of the French language and culture in Ontario for generations to come. It also guarantees the continuation of the Francophone character of our university. It will protect the provision of services and academic programs in French by the University of Ottawa, the largest bilingual university (French-English) in the world.
Designation will take effect on January 1, 2016
A longstanding commitment
For a long time, the University of Ottawa has been committed to promoting Francophone culture in Ontario and to providing a wide range of academic programs in French.
Our founding document, the 1965 University of Ottawa Act, states that one of our missions is “to further bilingualism and biculturalism and to preserve and develop Francophone culture in Ontario.” More recently, the University has made promotion of the Francophonie and bilingualism one of the four pillars of its strategic plan, Destination 2020.
This commitment was enshrined in the legislation that saw the University become a public institution some 50 years ago.
A guarantee to students
The University of Ottawa has a long history of offering bachelor’s degrees entirely in French; in fact, the vast majority of our programs can be taken in French or English. This right is now protected by law.
Designation guarantees that every student has a right to complete his or her entire program in French as long as he or she chooses electives in French. This means that the University cannot require a student to take a course in English in a program listed under the designation.
However, the vast majority of undergraduate programs are covered under the designation. We estimate that roughly 90% of Francophone students at uOttawa are registered in programs covered by the designation.
In addition, every student has a right to receive services from the University of Ottawa in French. This guarantee covers services such as the libraries, Food Services, SASS and many others.