Task Force on Programs and Services in French

State of Affairs

The status document provides useful information on the current situation of programs and services in French at the University of Ottawa. This includes information on the university environment, academic programs, recruitment, Francophone presence and studies in French, Francophone services and milieus, offer of programs and courses in French in Ontario and throughout Canada, Francophone living environments, and the cost of bilingualism.

The state of affairs document(in French only) is available in PDF format.



The University environment

(section 3 of the state of affairs document)

  • The University of Ottawa is firmly committed to promoting bilingualism and it implemented a University policy on this issue in 1974. However, this policy has not been updated since it was adopted and there is no formal follow-up system that ensures its application.
  • All University of Ottawa officials can work in both English and French. In addition, Francophones are highly represented in the University’s governance. A study of the institution’s administration profile showed that Francophones hold the majority of positions within the various administrative bodies, such as the Board of Governors, Senate or management team.
  • A study of full professors’ employment contracts carried out by the Human Resources Service as part of Vision 2010 concluded that about half of the professors are actively bilingual when they are hired.
  • Ninety-seven percent of support-staff positions are designated as “actively bilingual” and 93% of these positions are held by bilingual staff. According to the Human Resources Service, the following three faculties and three services have the highest numbers of passively bilingual support-staff: the faculties of Medicine, Engineering and Science, and the Animal Care and Veterinary Service, Computing and Communications Service, and the Office of Risk Management, Environmental Health and Safety.

Academic programs

(section 4 of the state of affairs document)

Undergraduate level

In 73 out of 108 disciplines, most programs are offered only in French or in both French and English. All programs at the Faculty of Law, Faculty of Education, School of Management, Faculty of Medicine, Faculty of Social Sciences as well as joint programs are offered in French. At the Faculty of Health Sciences, all programs are offered in French except for the Post R.N. Nursing program that is not entirely offered in French (approximately 20 students).

In the following three disciplines at the faculty of Arts, programs are offered in French and English, but bilingual courses are part of the programs: Arts Administration, specialization in Theatre (both include several bilingual courses), and Visual Arts (2nd, 3rd, and 4th year studio courses are bilingual).

In 24 disciplines, the program in French is not the exact equivalent of the English program, either because compulsory courses are offered solely in English or because the number of elective courses is more limited. However, in 10 of these disciplines students can complete the entire program in French since there are sufficient elective courses offered in French for students to accumulate the required number of credits.

  • At the Faculty of Arts: The Canadian Studies and Environmental Studies programs were designed as bilingual programs. In Linguistics, some 2nd, 3rd, and 4th year courses are offered in either English or French only. In Music, the majority of courses are offered in both French and English.
  • At the Faculty of Engineering: In Chemical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering, almost all 3rd and 4th year courses are offered in English only. In Civil Engineering, half of 2nd year courses are offered in English only. In Computer Science and Computer Engineering, most courses are offered in French and in English, with one or two exceptions. In Software Engineering and Electrical Engineering, certain advanced courses are offered in English only.
  • At the Faculty of Science: In Mathematics, Physics, and Biomedical Sciences, most courses are offered in both English and French and all compulsory courses are available in French. In Physical Geography, some 4th year elective courses are not offered in French. In Biopharmaceutical Sciences, three compulsory 3rd and 4th year courses are not offered in French and elective courses are generally offered in English. In Biochemistry, Biology, Chemistry and Geology, most courses are offered in both French and English, except 4th year courses that are generally offered in English. In Ophthalmic Medical Technology, all 3rd and 4th year courses are offered only in English.
  • At the Faculty of Health Sciences, the choice of elective course available in French is more limited than that of electives offered in English for the Post R.N. Nursing program.

Graduate level

Graduate programs are offered only in French in 9 disciplines, in French and in English in 31 disciplines, and mainly in English or only in English in 61 disciplines.

Courses in the Science, Engineering, Management and Medicine programs are not offered in French for the most part. It must be noted that if students can write their theses in the language of their choice, a large number of Francophones chose to write them in English.

Recruitment and enrolment

(sections 5 et 6 of the state of affairs document)

Over the last few years, the University of Ottawa increased its efforts to attract Francophones and Francophiles, either through recruitment activities (mass media campaigns, targeted publications, incentive administrative measures, targeted liaison activities, Faculty and department initiatives designed specifically for Francophones) or through academic scholarships offered to Francophones or students who choose to study in French. Since 2003-2004, the total budget for scholarships increased by more that $2.5 million and a funding opportunity for an additional $800,000 exists if financial need is demonstrated.

These measures, along with many others, were implemented by Strategic Enrolment Management to increase the number of Franco-Ontarian entering students (target of a 10% increase per year), the number of Quebec Francophones (+105 in 2006), the number of Francophones from other provinces (+7 in 2006), the number of students entering immersion programs (from 200 to 250 per year), and the number of Francophones from other countries (50% of entering students). Since the University is trying to maintain the total enrolment at about 33,500 students, this will result in a decrease of about 10% per year in the number of Anglophones admitted in direct-entry faculties.

The statistics in section 6 of the state of affairs document indicate that the Francophone student population has increased between 1995 and 2005. Since the 1997-1998 low enrolment period, the student population has increased by more than 2,000 Francophones. However, during this same period, the increase in the number of Anglophone students was four times higher than that of Francophone students, thus explaining the decrease in the proportion of Francophones. At the graduate level, Francophone enrolment has not changed very much. However, over the last ten years, there has been a 21% increase in Anglophone enrolment, which resulted in a decrease in the proportion of Francophones.

Francophone services and milieus

(section 7 of the state of affairs document)

All academic services are available in French to students and professors. In addition, professors are provided with significant linguistic support so that they can improve their second-language proficiency. The Library seems to fulfill its role well, but the University will retake control of its university press. For contracted services, a provision is usually included in the contract specifying that the contractor must comply with the bilingualism policy.

There are specific settings where Francophones and Francophiles can meet, interact and grow. Some of these include the Centre for Research on French Canadian Culture (CRCCF), the Institute of Canadian Studies, and the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research on Citizenship and Minorities (CIRCEM). We must also mention the Research Chairs in Canadian Francophonie. Five of these positions were filled in the following fields: education and Francophonie, public policy and Francophonie, literature and Francophonie, identity and Francophonie, Canadian Francophonie, entrepreneurship, innovation, and regional development.

The University of Ottawa hosts numerous social, cultural and community activities offered in French and English and organized by the Community Life Service or student associations. Since hundreds of groups function 100% autonomously, it is difficult to track all the information available, thus making it difficult to accurately assess the social, cultural and community life on campus.

Courses offered elsewhere in Ontario and in French Canada

(section 8 of the state of affairs document)

Through the Professional Training Service, the Teaching and Learning Support Service, and its various service points outside Ottawa as well as through collaborations established with other bilingual or Francophone universities and colleges in Canada, the University’s presence extends well beyond the two main campuses. In fact, the University offers about sixty courses in French by video conference, audio conference or via the Internet in several locations in Ontario and throughout the country

In addition, the University has several partnerships with universities, colleges and organizations in Ontario and throughout Canada. Some of the partners include the Association des universités de la francophonie canadienne (AUFC), Consortium national de formation en santé (CNFS), La Cité collégiale, the French Language Health Services Network of Eastern Ontario, Consortium des universités de la francophonie ontarienne (CUFO), and Agence universitaire de la francophonie (AUF).

Francophone communities

(section 8 of the state of affairs document)

The University of Ottawa welcomes and is present in various Francophone communities through its links to secondary schools, networking projects with target groups, and its alumni outreach. Some of these activities include the Concours provincial de français de l’Ontario, Holiday Science Lectures, Place à la jeunesse academic competition, Summer School, Introduction-to-Medicine Mini Courses, Olympiades de la résolution de problèmes, Enrichment Mini-Courses, Community Service Learning, and Legal Aid Clinic.

Cost of bilingualism

(section 10 of the state of affairs document)

In February 2005, the University carried out a comprehensive study on the costs of bilingualism. The methodology used was the same as the one used in 1989 by the Ontario Council on University Affairs (OCUA). The study showed that the support grant for bilingualism provided by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities covers less than 60% of the annual needs, i.e. less than 60% of the costs necessary to maintain the current level of service : “Direct service delivery costs include among others: the incremental cost of teaching; incremental cost related to support staff; second language training; translation costs; library costs; administrative costs; computer and communication services costs; publishing & printing; staffing and recruitment costs; etc.”

Of the identified need of $30.1 million, the University currently receives only $17.4 million. This amount has been the same for over ten years. In order to ensure access to a greater number of programs not yet offered in French and to improve the quality of existing programs, the University applied for an additional $13.7 million in the summer of 2005.

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Last updated: 2007.04.26