As I shared in my January 2018 letter to our community and in the recent President’s Town Halls that took place in February, our Board of Governors endorsed a slightly revised institutional Vision to become Sheridan Polytechnic, a university celebrated as a global leader in career-focused, applied education. This revised Vision supports our Mission, which compels us to continue to provide a premier, purposeful educational experience spanning a range of career-focused credentials that engage students in active learning, theory, applied research and creative activities to drive economic outcomes and foster social innovation.

Given our revised Vision and Mission, coupled with the fact that Sheridan is co-hosting the upcoming Polytechnics Canada Annual Conference at our Davis Campus in mid-May of this year, it seemed particularly timely to discuss what a polytechnic is – and how Sheridan already exemplifies the embodiment of, and provides our students with, a valuable polytechnic education.

Mary PreeceGenerally speaking, a polytechnic education includes the applied, skills-intensive and technology-based style of teaching and learning found in colleges with the theoretically based style of teaching and learning prevalent in universities. It has often been described as the best of both worlds, and combined with the work integrated learning and research opportunities available, polytechnics provide a well-rounded, future-focused learning environment for students.

Polytechnics Canada, of which Sheridan is a founding member, identifies 5 distinctive features of Canada's polytechnics:

  • Ability to offer four-year Bachelor’s degrees,
  • Broad range of technical, technological, vocational and professional programs from apprentice training to diplomas and certificates, as well as post-graduate credentials,
  • Strength in applied research and industry innovation, combined with a track record of success in federal research funding competitions
  • Location in key economic regions of Canada which have significant socio-economic activity and concentration of firms,
  • Large enrolment of local, regional, national and international students.

These features are certainly prevalent in the type of education we deliver at Sheridan:

  • We have been offering baccalaureate degrees for the past 15 years. Currently, we offer 20 Sheridan-specific degrees, with an additional 5 degrees that are delivered jointly with three university partners (Brock University, University of Toronto Mississauga and York University). Our 20 degrees are regulated, approved and reviewed under rigorous guidelines outlined by Ontario’s Postsecondary Education Quality Assessment Board (PEQAB) and meet the honours baccalaureate standard.
  • In addition to our degrees, we currently offer a range of credentials with over 100 highly regarded apprenticeship programs, one-year certificates, two-year diplomas, three-year advanced diplomas and one-year postgraduate certificates at the postsecondary level. The Faculty of Continuing and Professional Studies offers an extensive range of Certificates, Recognition of Achievement (ROA) programs and individual courses that address new labour market trends, careers and interests.
  • Sheridan’s approach to applied research excellence and impact is based on a culture of scholarship, research and creative activities (SRCA) which is inclusive, broad, and engages Sheridan’s students, staff, professors and the communities it serves. Our primary objectives are to deliver compelling value to students, provide exceptional professional growth opportunities for faculty, and deliver substantial economic and social benefits for the province. We’re committed to ensuring students across Faculties have the opportunity to engage in research on Provincial and Federal government funded projects in association with one of our five research centres or individual faculty members; and through curriculum-based research. Sheridan’s institutional track record in research is indicated by it being the only college in Ontario to rank in the top ten colleges in Canada in RE$EARCH Infosource’s “Top 50 Research Colleges” every year for the past five years. In the latest rankings, Sheridan stood #1 in the country among all colleges in both Research Partnerships and Number of Completed Projects, and #6 in the country overall.
  • In terms of socio-economic activity, both of our home regions of Halton (9.3%) and Peel (6.5%) have a 5 year growth rate that is higher than the Ontario average of 4.6% (Source: Statistics Canada) and represent a population of over 1.9M people. Halton Region has had 2 consecutive years of record-breaking levels of construction activity (Source: Halton Business Blog, 2017) and Peel Region is seeing steady increases in their quarterly average employment rates (Source: Peel Data Centre, 2017). Approximately 7,000 people graduate from Sheridan each year with 85% of our students remaining in the GTA after graduation. By infusing the workforce with outstanding graduates, fuelling local innovation through applied research that engages students and industry partners, and enriching our business economy, Sheridan is invigorating the communities where we live and work.
    • We currently have over 23,000 full-time students enrolled at Sheridan including:
    • Approximately 7,400 international students at Sheridan, hailing from approximately 100 countries
    • Just over 280 First Nation, Métis and Inuit students who have voluntarily self-identified as Indigenous
    • 12,429 students who come from Halton or Peel
    • 2,755 students who come from Canada (outside of Ontario)

Sheridan’s journey to become a polytechnic, and ultimately a polytechnic university, is driven by our commitment to student success and our recognition of the need to provide students with as many educational options and opportunities as possible. In an economy built on innovation, the concept of lifelong learning is widely regarded as a mainstay to prepare individuals for shifting workforce demand including jobs that don’t exist yet and the growing void left by aging demographics and mass retirements. By adding the polytechnic aspect in Sheridan’s pursuit for an advanced designation, the college will be able to stay true to our history of applied research and experiential learning. As I shared in my interview with in January, our goal is to retain the strength of our history and build on that to become what we need to be so that our students get the recognition for the kind of institution from which they graduate.

Mary Preece
President and Vice Chancellor

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