Ontario signs strategic mandate agreements with PSE institutions

August 11, 2014

Ontario has signed strategic mandate agreements (SMAs) with all 45 of the province’s publicly assisted colleges and universities. The SMAs push ahead with Ontario’s commitment to institutional differentiation, directing institutions to pursue growth in identified areas of strength while limiting expansion in areas where programs already exist. The SMAs will also help connect institutions with the economy by focusing on co-op opportunities, applied research, entrepreneurship, and skills training. The SMAs represent a shift in the relationship between the government and PSE institutions toward a “co-management” approach that advocates say will enhance transparency and accountability. “These aren’t things we’re dictating; we want to exercise stewardship over post-secondary education,” said Ontario Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities Reza Moridi. Council of Ontario Universities (COU) President Bonnie M Patterson commented, "you will see in these agreements the many ways universities are preparing graduates for careers, and how universities are hubs of innovation, entrepreneurship and job creation that are helping to build Ontario." The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA), however, said it had “serious concerns over the government’s Differentiation Agenda,” suggesting that the plan could affect institutional autonomy, academic planning, and academic freedom. Ontario News Release | Toronto Star | COU News Release | OCUFA Blog