Bilingualism

Regulation on Bilingualism at the University of Ottawa

WHEREAS pursuant to paragraph (c) of section 4 of An Act respecting the Université d’Ottawa, this institution must “further bilingualism and biculturalism and preserve and develop French culture in Ontario”;

AND WHEREAS affirmation of the bilingual nature of the University is indispensable to achieving this two-fold objective;

AND WHEREAS in principle and in fact, French and English are the official languages of the University;

AND WHEREAS the University’s bilingual nature is reflected in its ability to offer its programs in French or in English, and by the bilingualism of its central administration and general services, of the internal administration of its faculties and academic units, of its academic, administrative and support staff members; and of its student population;

AND WHEREAS the University of Ottawa is designated as a public service agency for the purposes of the definition of “government agency” in section 1 of the French Language Services Act in respects to services set out in Article 217.3 of Ontario Regulation 398/93: Designation of Public Service Agencies and that this designation has been in effect since January 1, 2016;

AND WHEREAS while encouraging the development of its current programs which, notwithstanding their different language requirements, contribute to the affirmation of the bilingual nature of the University and benefit from this bilingualism, the University must increase the number and quality of its bilingual programs;

AND WHEREAS the central administration of the University reflects the bilingual nature of the institution, and its general services communicate with the university community and the public in both official languages and serve members of both language groups equally well;

AND WHEREAS the University’s academic units provide bilingual services to the full extent required by the nature of their teaching and the composition of their student population;

AND WHEREAS the University’s central administration, general services and academic units ensure that their services are proactively provided and available in both official languages, namely that they are clearly announced, visible and easy to access at all times;

AND WHEREAS the University ensures that all its regular academic staff members are at least passively bilingual, namely that they have mastered all the active functions of one official language and the passive functions of the other;

AND WHEREAS the University strives to gradually increase the number of its regular academic staff members who are “actively bilingual”;

AND WHEREAS the University encourages and assists its students in gaining knowledge of the University’s two official languages in order to take full advantage of all the human, educational, cultural and artistic resources available to the University community;

AND WHEREAS the University maintains that bilingualism has cultural value in of itself, and that in some disciplines and programs, it is indispensable to academic excellence; 

AND WHEREAS the University also maintains that bilingualism has an educational value because it creates an academic and living environment that promotes communication and mutual respect between the two language groups;

AND WHEREAS consequently, the University holds that the affirmation of its bilingual nature, far from hindering the achievement of the other objectives mentioned in paragraphs (a) and (b) of section 4 of the Act, promotes the University’s progress as an institution of higher learning;

AND WHEREAS the University intends to fully respect the vested rights of its academic, administrative and support staff members, and of its current students;

AND WHEREAS The Board of Governors, under the terms of paragraph (j) of section 11 of the Act,  and the Senate, under paragraph (a) of section 17 of the Act, are empowered to enact a regulation governing bilingualism at the University;

THEREFORE, the Senate and the Board of Governors of the University of Ottawa adopt the following regulation.

PART I: Definitions

1.  (1) In this regulation:

a.    “University” means the University of Ottawa as established by an Act respecting Université d'Ottawa;

b.    “official languages” means French and English;

c.    “principal language” means the official language which is the predominant working language of the staff members within an academic unit or service, or a functional division thereof, or which is the only or predominant language used in a program of studies;

d    “second language” means the other official language;

e.    “active functions of a language” means the oral and written expression in that language, and “active knowledge” means fluency in these functions such that a professor can teach in this language and administrative and support staff members can offer services in this language;

f.    “passive functions of a language” means oral and written comprehension of that language and “passive knowledge” means a level of proficiency in these functions that enable a general comprehension of what is communicated;

g.    “active bilingualism” means the mastery of the active functions of both official languages;

h.    “passive bilingualism” means fluency in all functions in one official language and in the passive functions of the other;

i.    “central administration” refers collectively to the Board of Governors and the Senate, their committees, the offices of the president, vice-presidents, and the general secretariat;

j.    “general services” means all services under the direct authority of the University’s central administration and not under the authority of an academic unit;

k.    “academic unit” refers to a faculty, school or department;

l,    “academic staff member” means a member of the Association of Professors of the University of Ottawa;

m.    “program of studies” means all the courses that a student needs to pass to be granted a diploma, certificate or degree from the University. 

n.    “designated program” is a program designated under the French Language Services Act of Ontario. Such designation guarantees that this program can be completed entirely in French;    

o.    “official communication” means a message issued by a recognized administrative body; 

p.    “precedence of French” means that the French version appears first in all bilingual communications at the University.

(2) From a language perspective, the undergraduate programs at the University can be classified as fallows: 

a.    based on their language of instruction:

i.    programs in which all courses are given in only one official language;

ii.    programs in which all courses are offered in both official languages. This means that all mandatory courses and a variety of optional courses are given in French and in English, such that a student can, if they so desire, complete their program in a single language, i.e., completely in French or completely in English;

iii.    programs in which all mandatory courses are given in both official languages but in which there are a lack of optional courses given in one of the two official languages, such that students must complete some optional courses in the other language to complete their program; 

iv.    programs in which only a certain number of mandatory or optional courses are given in both official languages, with other courses given in one language only;

v.    programs that require bilingualism or in which students must necessarily complete a certain number of courses in each of the two official languages.  

b.    based on policies governing program requirements:

i.    programs in which no level of language skill is imposed by policy as a condition for the degree, except sufficient knowledge of the language required for registration in the courses;

i).    programs which, by policy, impose a level of skill in the second language as a condition of graduation, either by success in a test administered at the beginning or before the end of such studies at the University, or by success in a second language course or courses specified therein;

iii.    programs which require the student to pass one or more second-language courses, or one or more courses in the second language, regardless of the student’s fluency at the time of beginning their studies at the University.

(3) This Regulation shall be interpreted in accordance with the University of Ottawa’s legal language obligations as well as with its commitment to maintaining and to supporting the vitality of the Franco-Ontarian community and to promoting the full recognition and use of French and English in Canadian society.

(4) The central administration, its general services and the academic units have the duty to ensure that positive measures are taken to implement this commitment in order to achieve substantive equality of status, rights and privileges for both official languages at the University of Ottawa.

PART II — Central administration, general services and academic units

2.    (1) In meetings of the central administration and academic units (and their committees), individuals may use the official language of their choice and obtain, upon request, a translation of any motion that is put to vote.

(2) The minutes of these meetings will be bilingual, in that comments and motions are reported in the language in which they were made.

(3) Regulations, policy statements, and related official documents are published simultaneously in both official languages.

(4) When the use of French and English alternates in internal communications, French is used first and both languages are used proportionally.

3. (1) All official communications from the central administration, academic units and general services that address the University’s academic, administrative, and support staff members, and the student population are issued simultaneously in French and in English.

(2) Each academic unit reports on the language requirements of its programs during the cyclical review of its programs.

(3) The nature of certain academic units and certain general services may justify an exemption to the preceding clause, in which case this exemption must be approved by the appropriate authorities within the Senate or Board of Governors of the University.

(4) French has precedence in all written communications issued by the central administration, the academic units and the general services. 

4. (1) All communications with external groups reflect the bilingual nature of the University.

(2) French has precedence is all bilingual communications aimed at any external groups.

PART III — Administrative and support staff members

5. University positions filled by administrative or support staff members require either active or passive bilingualism. The University determines the level of bilingualism required in light of the functions of the position. Certain specialised positions, in which the incumbents do not directly serve, or deal with, members of the University community, may be designated as requiring “passive bilingualism”. All other positions require “active bilingualism.” 

6. (1) The University only hires a candidate for a position if the incumbent meets the requirements of the position and of this regulation, or if the incumbent undertakes to meet the required level of bilingualism of the position before a given deadline.

(2) If justified by circumstances, this deadline may be extended for an administrative or support staff member upon recommendation by the dean or director, following consultation with Human Resources.

(3) If an administrative or support staff member does not meet the language requirements of a position before the deadline set in his/her employment contract, the member’s employment at the University may be terminated.

7. The current regulation applies to all University administrative and support staff members.

8. (1) At its expense, the University offers second-language training to its administrative and support staff members who are required to improve their language skills. Participation in these courses is subject to special regulatory provisions that the University will adopt in due course.

(2) Language proficiency is determined by a proficiency test administered by the Official Languages and Bilingualism Institute.

PART IV — Academic staff members

9. (1) The University only employs academic staff members who meet, or who undertake to meet, the level of bilingualism specified in their employment contract. All contracts specify the level of bilingualism required.

(2) At contract renewal, faculties report the steps taken by academic staff members to meet the required level of bilingualism.

(3) An academic staff member who is hired with the understanding that he or she will undertake to meet a certain level of bilingualism is not offered tenure until this undertaking has been fulfilled.

(4) When it becomes necessary to confirm that an academic staff member has met the level of bilingualism specified in their employment contract, whether it be to renew the contract or for the purposes of granting tenure, the primary tool at the dean’s disposal is a test administered by the Official Languages and Bilingualism Institute.

10. The University offers French and English courses to academic staff members who wish to improve their knowledge of either official language;

11. The University or the faculty provides the necessary support to academic staff members who wish to improve their knowledge of either official language to meet the level of bilingualism required at hiring.

PART V — Student research assistants and teaching assistants

12. Research assistants and teaching assistants are not subject to the requirements of this regulation. The requirements of their position take precedence.

PART VI – Programs of studies 

13. When prioritizing faculty requests for additional resources, the Senate takes into account the degree to which the proposed use of such resources will help “ to further bilingualism and biculturalism and to preserve and develop French culture in Ontario.”

14. Consequently, the Senate will focus on projects that aim to meet the needs identified by a community which the University serves, either by improving the bilingual nature of an existing program or by making a currently unilingual program bilingual.

15. When considering new programs, the Senate takes into account each program’s potential contribution to the development of bilingualism and biculturalism, and what the University’s bilingualism can contribute to the program’s success.

PART VII – Students

16. To be admitted into a program, a student has sufficient mastery of the official language or languages required of the program.

17. The University implements a series of measures to allow students to gain or improve their second-language skills.

18. (1) Every student has the right to use French or English to communicate with the University’s central administration and general services, and with the administration of the academic unit in which the student is registered. Students have a right to receive services in their official language of choice.

(2)    Every student has the right to require that a course be given in the language used to describe the course in the course calendar.

(3)    Except in programs and courses for which language is a requirement, all students have the right to produce their written work and to answer examination questions in the official language of their choice, regardless of the course’s language of instruction.

(4)    In programs that are aimed at Francophone communities in Ontario and Canada, academic units will report to the Senate the measures they have taken to ensure that students have mastered the French language to a level such that they can exercise their profession. 

PART VIII — Application

19. The Board of Governors is responsible for applying Part II, Part III and Part IV of this regulation, which govern central administration, general services, and the faculties, along with administrative, support and academic staff members.

20. The Senate is responsible for applying Part VI and Part VII of this regulation, which govern the programs and the students, respectively. 

21. Within six months of this regulation taking effect, each faculty must:

a.    inform the Senate of the language classification of each of the programs it currently offers. In the case of graduate programs, the Graduate Studies Office provides an overview of the situation in terms of the bilingualism of its programs.

b.    submit, to the Senate and to the Board of Governors, a plan to implement this regulation to ensure that it is fully and continuously applied. 

22. The Standing Committee on Francophone Affairs and Official Languages advises and follows up with academic units to guide them in applying this regulation.

23. In accordance with sections 8 and 10 of this regulation:

(1) The Official Languages and Bilingualism Institute is responsible for preparing and offering language courses to academic, administrative and support staff members, and to students.  

(2) The Official Languages and Bilingualism Institute is also responsible for creating and administering language competency tests which members of the University community must take in accordance with paragraph (3) of section 6, paragraphs (1) and (3) of section 9, and section 15 of this regulation. However, with regard to second language tests designed for academic staff members, the Institute will check with the academic unit concerned to determine the level of passive knowledge that the person in question is required to meet.

24. No exception to this regulation may be made without the written consent of the Board of Governors or the Senate, as the case may be. 

PART IX — Regulation Review

25. This regulation is reviewed every ten years, or sooner if necessary.

26. The Vice-President Academic and Provost, and the Vice-President, Resources are responsible for interpreting and applying this regulation.

The regulation on bilingualism was revised by the Senate on November 28, 2016 (Resolution 2016-2017.023) and the Board of Governors on December 12, 2016 (Resolution 2016.63). 

 

Back to top