The polytechnic advantage expanding to Brampton and Milton

Sheridan and Conestoga made an application to service new satellite campuses in Milton and Brampton

Originally featured in the Toronto Star 

Deb Matthews, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development, confirmed on Tuesday that Ryerson – in partnership with Sheridan College – is the sole university to have submitted a formal expression of interest in expanding to Brampton.

The province also received an expression of interest from Wilfrid Laurier University, in partnership with Conestoga College, to expand to Milton.

“We have a pretty exciting vision of what both of these places will be,” Matthews said. “Now, we’re reviewing the proposals and we’ll soon get to work with those partners to make these a reality.”

Brampton, one of the fastest growing cities in Ontario and the largest without a university presence, was selected by the province as one of two locations for a new post-secondary facility in October.

The province will contribute $180-million towards the two new university sites.

“Ryerson will partner with Sheridan, if the proposal is accepted by the province,” said Jennifer Grass, assistant vice-president of university relations at Ryerson.

“During the process of preparing this proposal, Ryerson discussed the matter with the city of Brampton. The next step is for Ryerson to prepare a more detailed proposal to be prepared for government review.”

Susan Atkinson, spokesperson for Sheridan College, which has approximately 13,000 students at the Davis campus in Brampton, said the school is happy to partner with Ryerson on this initiative and that details are still being discussed.

The province launched calls for proposals for the new sites in January, specifically looking for a focus on science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) programs.

Brampton Mayor Linda Jeffrey said Ryerson was one of the first post-secondary institutions the city had spoken to about opening a new campus.

While she wouldn’t discuss details about the school, Jeffrey said bringing a university to the city is a long-time coming. After her 2014 election win, Jeffrey set up a Blue Ribbon Panel, chaired by former premier Bill Davis, to push the bid forward.

“We are looking for a university that will make sincere investments in our city, our residents and our emerging innovation hub,” Jeffrey said. “We want a partner that is willing to disrupt the status quo and push the boundaries on the traditional notion of what a university can be.”

Jeffrey said the city will work with partners on proposals, and that it will likely have to provide financial resources and land for the new university site.

Jeffrey hopes that the new campus will support healthcare, an area of study Brampton is well positioned to support.

“We want to find a way to offer as much experiential learning as possible, with our business community and academic partners,” Jeffrey said.

“Everyone is excited. I feel like this was the best Christmas present I’ve ever had. It has completely changed the outlook of our city and really put us on the map.”

The province will spend the next several weeks evaluating the expressions of interest. An invitational call of proposals will be due in July, and an announcement of “successful proponents” is expected in the fall.

Click here to read the article in the Toronto Star