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Two students seek help from Kawartha Lakes to get Fleming College to change their programming decision

DAN CEARNS The Standard

KAWARTHA LAKES: Two Fleming College students are turning to the City of Kawartha Lakes for help, after the college recently announced the suspension of a number of programs.

At a Committee of the Whole meeting, on Tuesday, May 7th, Emily Wakeham and Suzanne Mooser made a deputation to council, about their concerns with the college’s recently announced plan to suspend 29 programs.

Ms. Wakeham acknowledged, colleges don’t fall under a municipality’s purview, but noted, her overall goal with the deputation was for a council resolution to be made, to urge the college to keep the programs at the Frost Campus, in Lindsay, and “for the public to put pressure on the college for the reversal of their decision.”

“This year, 43 programs were cut from the college. This is an unprecedented amount of educational cuts,” Ms. Wakeham added.

The decision on these suspensions was made in late April. A statement, from Maureen Adamson, the President of Fleming College, posted on May 1st, on the college’s website, states, “of the 29 suspended programs at Fleming, for admission in fall of 2024, some have low projected domestic enrollment, others have zero projected domestic enrollment, and other programs are no longer financially sustainable, with enrolment levels that do not cover the cost of delivery.”

“Any program suspension decisions rest with the authority of the Board of Governors of Fleming College. Until a Board of Governors motion was passed, there was no related information to convey. Immediately following the board decision, on April 23rd, we communicated the information to the unions. We then felt it was prudent to meet with the program faculty and program support staff, to inform them of the decision and our commitment to our students through the teach out periods. Key stakeholders were also contacted. I want to assure you the academic, management and governance leadership of Fleming College is committed to honouring the OPSEU collective agreements and the employment stability process, to mitigate impacts, wherever required,” the statement added.

However, Ms. Wakeham said, she felt these decisions “undermine the identity of Fleming College,” and at least one of the cuts “jeopardize[s] the number of qualified people working in the environmental, natural resource sector.”

“While there are no official numbers, the union estimates a total loss of 1,200 students in the next two years. This will have a major impact on the community, as students spend, on average, $20,000 a year in Lindsay. That’s tens of millions of dollars lost in the local economy. This will also have an impact on local businesses, who rely on students to fill part time positions and contribute to revenue,” she said.

She also felt the college offering fewer programs will “push people out of Lindsay.”

This issue is expected to be discussed further at the next council meeting, on Tuesday, May 21st.

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