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Eastern Region Colleges ABC Institute

Working with Advisory Committees

Each program or cluster of programs in Ontario’s community colleges has a program advisory committee (PAC). The purpose of the PAC is to help colleges establish, develop and maintain programs that are relevant to the needs of industry and the community.Why have program advisory committees?

Whether you are engaged in program quality review, revising an existing program/course or developing a new program, a program advisory committee will be a very helpful source of information. They can help you to:

  • Determine the need for new programs or modifications of existing programs
  • Establish a rationale for your programIdentify trends in the discipline or field of study
  • Identify hiring patterns
  • Establish links with the industry
  • Find resources (human and other) that will support your program
  • Validate and/or establish performances expected of program graduates
  • Shape your program of study and learning experiences so that they are current aligned with workplace needs
  • Assess curriculum and learning materials

All new program proposals leading to an Ontario college credential must have specific industry feedback regarding the need for the proposed program in the community and approval of the proposed curriculum. 

How to establish a PAC

Existing programs will have a PAC with members who are appointed by the college’s Board of Governors. If you are developing a new program proposal and if there is an existing Advisory Committee that has the relevant industry expertise for the program you are proposing, there is no need to create and assemble a new Advisory Committee. If there is no existing Advisory Committee with the relevant industry expertise, you will want to create an Ad Hoc Advisory Committee that is broadly representative of the stakeholders of your new program proposal.

You usually will want to find eight to twelve people external to the college to sit on your ad hoc committee. You can find members with the relevant industry expertise by thinking of who would hire graduates of this proposed program in several areas:

  • Governments
  • Governmental Agencies
  • Corporations
  • Businesses
  • Business association/ chambers of commerce
  • Community organizations

Governmental agenciesCorporationsBusinessesBusiness association/ chambers of commerceCommunity organizations
You may also want to consider including members of relevant professional associations, educators from other related programs (such as a program that will articulate with the program you are developing), graduates of programs that may feed in to the proposed program etc.

“Why would anyone want to join my Ad Hoc Advisory Committee?”

There are several reasons:

Most people in their chosen industry are passionate about it and want to give back.They want to ensure graduates coming into their industry have the required knowledge and skills.They want an “inside track” on hiring future graduates of the proposed program.It is an excellent opportunity to network with other leaders within their industry.Being on an advisory committee looks contributes positively to one’s résumé.

Tips for Effective Meetings

Timing – find a suitable time of day for all the members to attend. Breakfast meetings, lunch meetings and late afternoon meetings are most desirable meeting times.Provide information on how to find the meeting room, where to park etc.

Set Objectives for the Meeting – Before planning the agenda, determine the objective(s) of the meeting. The more concrete your objectives, the more focused your agenda will be.

Provide an Agenda Beforehand – Follow the agenda closely during the meeting.

Assign Meeting Preparation – Give all participants information that they need to prepare for the meeting. You may also want to ask members to be prepared to contribute something specifically at the meeting. The meeting will take on a new significance and they will be well prepared to provide the information you require.

Watch the clock – Stick to business items and reduce socializing. You want to maximize your committee members’ time. Keep your meetings as short as possible particularly for early morning or mid-day meetings.

Assign Action Items – If required, don’t finish any discussion in the meeting without deciding how to act on it.

Examine Your Meeting Process – Assess what took place and make a plan to improve the next meeting.

Follow up – ensure you follow up after the meeting. Thank all the members for taking the time to attend and contribute to the meeting. Let them know what action has been taken as a result of their input.

This material was extracted and adapted with permission from the Manual for Program Developers v2 developed by Algonquin College, last revised November, 2008.