What is the OCQAS and why does it matter to the Colleges?
The Ontario College Quality Assurance Service (OCQAS) is established to provide effective and efficient mechanisms that ensure specific program quality and consistency standards are met by the Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology (CAAT) in Ontario. The service was mandated into existence by the provincial government to be the colleges’ self-regulatory quality agency.
Who is involved in the OCQAS?
The OCQAS operates within the structure of the Colleges Ontario, and is responsible to a separate Management Board. The Management Board operates independently of government and of any individual college or the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.
How is the OCQAS unique?
The OCQAS is unique in that it is owned and operated by the 24 public colleges in Ontario. While its existence was mandated by the provincial government, it is not a government agency and has not reporting or other relationship with government. Most other quality assurance agencies in Canada are government agencies or arms-length agencies of government. Also, OCQAS is responsible for ensuring quality at both the program level through the CVS as well as at the institutional level through the PQAPA. This again sets it apart from other models where a quality assurance service may provide a program-level approval process (such as is found in the university sector in Ontario or in other jurisdictions such as Campus Alberta or the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Council) or an institutional-level recognition or accreditation service such as is found in British Columbia or throughout the United States and most European countries.
How is the OCQAS funded?
The Service is funded by the 24 public colleges in Ontario. Each college makes a contribution based on the relative size of the college.
Does the OCQAS charge colleges for the services it provides?
There is no extra charge made against the colleges (other than an annual fee) for the validation of programs or for the academic audits. The colleges are responsible for their own costs of program development and for all costs associated with the development of their Self-Study Reports that are prepared for the PQAPA. The majority of costs associated with the academic audits (costs of the audit panels – accommodation, travel, honoraria, etc.) are paid by the OCQAS while the colleges pay the costs that may be associated with having the audit panel on site for two or three days (food, materials, etc.).
Where else can we go to learn more about studying in Ontario?
There is information available through the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development website, as well as all the individual college websites.
We are not from Canada. How do we choose a college?
All 24 colleges of applied arts and technology in Ontario offer a range of programs designed to meet the needs of their communities and students. Each college maintains an internet presence with a website that will contain all the relevant information about the programs it offers; application and selection information; as well as financial information related to tuition and ancillary fees. As well, the colleges support and maintain a centralized application service (Ontario College Application Service) where all programs offered by the college system can be found.
Are graduates being employed after completing their program?
Since 1998, colleges have been mandated by the Ontario government to collect and report performance data in five areas – graduate satisfaction, student satisfaction, employer satisfaction, employment rate, and graduation rate. Gathered by an independent research company, the KPI results show that Ontario’s colleges achieve consistently high results when measured by students, graduates and employers.