Reaching Higher

Hon. John Milloy

Minister John Milloy recently spoke to a large crowd at the Canadian Club, highlighting the results and successes of the Reaching Higher plan and the future of Ontario's post-secondary education system. To view Minister Milloy's speech from January 2010, please visit the Canadian Club website.


The Reaching Higher Plan, a $6.2-billion investment in higher education, has made postsecondary education more accessible and affordable to more students. The plan also has helped to improve the quality and accountability of Ontario's postsecondary education system.

Investments made in Ontario's colleges and universities are helping to ensure more students can acquire the knowledge, skills and training they need to succeed in the 21st century.

Reaching Higher is getting results:

More students in colleges and universities

Our first priority with Reaching Higher was to increase access to postsecondary education - and our investments are paying off:

  • About 120,000 more students are attending college or university today than in 2002-03, a 31 per cent increase.
  • The enrolment growth experienced this decade is over five times the amount of growth seen in the 1990s.
  • Currently, 39 per cent of 18 to 24 year olds are participating in postsecondary education - up from 35 per cent in 2002-03.

More financial support for students

Part of the Reaching Higher plan to improve access to postsecondary education included new investments for student assistance. This funding has ensured students have the resources they need to benefit from postsecondary studies without accumulating unmanageable debt.

According to a recent report by the Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation, Ontario is now providing record levels of non-repayable assistance, and Ontario institutions were found to be more generous than other Canadian institutions in providing need-based aid. This was attributed to Ontario government policies and investments in institutional aid.

Results from investments in student assistance show:

  • 172,000 students are benefiting from enhancements to the Ontario Student Assistance Program this year. These enhancements include more access grants and providing relief to students who need help to manage and repay their loans.
  • The Ontario Student Loan default rate declined to 8.4 per cent in 2008, the lowest rate since measurement began in 1997, when it was 23.5 per cent.

Helping more Aboriginal, francophone, first generation students and students with disabilities attend and succeed at college and university



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The Gathering Place at Fanshawe College provides First Nations students with the tools and support they need to succeed.

The University Experience Program at Queen's offers prospective first generation students a chance to discover what university could be like.

At Confederation College, one small word has made a huge difference: respect. The Respect Campaign promotes diversity and tolerance to create a positive learning environment that fosters student success.

Brock University's First Generation Program includes workshops, one-on-one consultations and a student drop-in centre to help first generation students make the transition to university.

At Conestoga, the Postsecondary Accommodation Supports and Services program helps students with learning disabilities learn study skills and communications strategies to help them succeed.

At Cambrian College's orientation program for students with disabilities, students learn how to use assistive technologies and apply strategies for successfully managing their learning challenges.

The University of Ottawa has created or strengthened innovative undergraduate programs in French which offer students more choice, including programs in the sciences and the arts.

Training more doctors and nurses

Through Reaching Higher, Ontario is creating a stronger health care system by:

  • Adding 260 new first-year medical school spaces, a 38 per cent increase since 2004-05.
  • Creating four new medical education campuses to train doctors in more communities across Ontario - at Kitchener-Waterloo, St. Catharines, Windsor and Mississauga.
  • Supporting nursing degree programs in Ontario so more students are enrolled full-time in first-year nursing degree programs. 637 more students, or 20 per cent, enrolled in first year programs between 2004-05 and 2007-08.

Students are more satisfied

Students' experiences at college and university are more rewarding thanks to Reaching Higher investments that have increased the quality of their learning experiences and improved overall satisfaction:

  • 80 per cent of undergraduates rate their entire university experience as good to excellent.
  • 81 per cent of undergraduates agree that, given the option to start again, they would choose the same university they are now attending.
  • 78 per cent of college students are satisfied with their college experience, up from 75 per cent in 2002-03.
  • 82 per cent of college students are satisfied with the overall quality of their learning experiences in their chosen program of study.

Higher graduation rates, more success

The quality of students' learning experiences has improved, leading to higher rates of student success at colleges and universities:

  • 78 per cent of university students now complete their degrees - up from 73 per cent in 2002-03.
  • 65 per cent of college students now graduate - up from 57 per cent in 2002 03.

And graduates are getting good jobs quickly, demonstrating that students are gaining the right skills and knowledge through their postsecondary education:

  • 89 per cent of college graduates and 94 per cent of university graduates were employed within six months of graduating.
  • Two years later, 96 per cent of university graduates were employed and 84 per cent were employed in careers related to their program of study.
  • 88 per cent of college students are satisfied that their current studies are preparing them with the knowledge and skills that will be useful in their future careers.

More graduate spaces

Reaching Higher investments in graduate education are helping to develop the top talent needed to conduct cutting-edge research and translate innovative ideas into solutions.

  • Graduate enrolment has increased by 54 per cent since 2002-03.
  • Over 15,000 new graduate spaces will be created when the Reaching Higher expansion is completed by 2011-12.

More access

Reaching Higher helped Contact North and the elearnnetwork expand distance education programs so Ontarians could access postsecondary education no matter where they lived. People living in Northern, rural and remote communities can access postsecondary courses and programs using audio-conference, videoconference and e-learning technologies.

Contact North maintains Access Centres in over 90 small and remote communities across Northern Ontario, including more than 20 centres in First Nations communities. Approximately 5,500 registered learners used Contact North in 2009-10.

Visit Contact North for success stories.

elearnnetwork has expanded from five to 17 elearning centres to serve almost 1,000 clients. Visit elearnnetwork for success stories.