The University of Ottawa reinforces French-language education programs

International and Francophonie
STEM building
The latest report on French-language higher education called Sommet des États généraux sur le postsecondaire en contexte francophone minoritaire shows that Francophones who pursue their postsecondary studies in French are more likely to live and work in French, than those who choose English-language institutions. This reveals that it is urgent to extend French language programs to enable these youths to fulfill their ambitions, despite the strong pull of English-language.

Presently, he University of Ottawa trains the vast majority of professionals who provide front-line services in French in their communities in Ontario in the hope of contributing to the substantive equality of the two official language communities. Hence the Montfort Hospital is not short of Francophone healthcare professionals. In addition to health care professionals, we also train thousands of teachers, lawyers, social workers and entrepreneurs in French-language every year, all of whom contribute to the provision of services in French in the region, in Ontario and across Canada.

In acknowledgement of the importance of protecting the breadth and diversity of its French-language programs, the University requested and obtained in 2016 under the French Language Services Act of Ontario the designation of most of its 265 undergraduate programs.

Today, we intend to go even further and expand our range of programs in French-language in areas that are critical to the future of Ontario's Francophonie, including science and engineering. Thanks to a new investment of $34.7 millions from the federal and provincial governments, some 20 francophone professors will be hired over the next two years in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics to enable more francophones to study in these fields entirely in French. This will ensure that francophones in Ontario and across Canada have the knowledge and skills they need to compete in the knowledge-based economy.

This funding will also provide new experiential learning spaces for students in nursing, nutrition, speech-language pathology and audiology, and create new programs in health and management.  In addition, a Pharm MD program in French-language has already been announced for fall 2023, the only one of its kind outside of Quebec. The University is also working on a midwifery program that we hope to develop over the next few years to meet a critical need in the communities.

Our strategic plan Transformation 2030 reaffirms our commitment to strengthening our ties with the greater Franco-Ontarian community in order to support its development in an increasingly interconnected world. This means offering new programs, such as science and technology, that truly meet the needs of our communities, and recruiting more international Francophones into our programs of study to enrich our communities after their studies.

The report on the Sommet des États généraux sur le postsecondaire en contexte francophone minoritaire reminds us that francophone institutions in minority contexts must work together, to serve their communities and to implement the systemic changes that the higher education needs to thrive.

For francophones in Ontario, Canada and elsewhere, living, growing and developing the knowledge they need in French-language to make their voices heard in society and in the economy is more essential than ever.  Postsecondary institutions across Canada can continue to count on the University of Ottawa's commitment in promoting knowledge in French, in all disciplines. Our collective future depends on it.

Jacques Frémont, President and Vice-Chancellor. 

Sanni Yaya, Vice-President, International and Francophonie.