Strategic Mandate Agreement with Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities

PDAD&C#12, 2014-15

To:  PDAD&C, Governors 
From:      Cheryl Regehr, Vice-President and Provost
Date:  August 7, 2014
Re:  Strategic Mandate Agreement with Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities  

I am pleased to inform you that the University of Toronto is now able to share the Strategic Mandate Agreement (SMA) we have signed with the provincial Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU).   The SMA is a strong endorsement of our differentiated role within the province, including the important acknowledgement that U of T is a “globally recognized, comprehensive, and research-intensive institution with a distinct leadership role in Ontario’s postsecondary education system.”

The SMA goes on to say that U of T creates unparalleled economic benefits for the province of Ontario, thanks to our unique strengths in research, education and entrepreneurship. The government will support U of T’s plans to build on its current strengths to achieve its vision across its three campuses.  The SMA also acknowledges that the University’s “broad range of program offerings and research activity have a major economic and social impact, locally and globally.”

The SMA will allow us to strengthen key initiatives in research, education and entrepreneurship.  The government’s support and its recognition of U of T as one of the top universities in the world is most welcome.  MTCU has signed strategic mandate agreements with the other universities and colleges in the province in an effort to differentiate the institutions according to their particular strengths and to provide a framework for growth over the next three years.

As you well know, this institution has achieved its leadership position despite challenging financial conditions.  There is no escaping the hard truth that we’ll need more support from our government partners, at all levels, if we are to continue to play a unique and differentiated role within Canadian higher education.

The SMA highlights several areas where the University is a provincial leader, including undergraduate and graduate education, research and entrepreneurship.

Undergraduate Education: The SMA acknowledges the remarkable diversity of U of T’s more than 50,000 undergraduate students.  The University, as noted by the SMA, will continue to strengthen undergraduate learning through enhanced student support initiatives such as embedding professional staff in colleges, faculties and libraries and by providing opportunities for first-year students to participate in small learning opportunities on all three campuses.

Undergraduate students also benefit from the University’s emphasis on experiential learning. The SMA notes the University’s wide range of experiential learning opportunities such as co-op, professional experience years, internships, practica, work-study positions, service learning in community settings and undergraduate research opportunities.

Research and Graduate Studies: The SMA recognizes that U of T is ranked among the top 20 universities in the world and is the highest ranked Canadian university in the four most prestigious international rankings.  With the largest number of graduate students in Canada, not only is the University a leader in traditional research-based graduate programs, but U of T’s professional master’s programs are research informed, professionally relevant and responsive to changing needs. Finally, the SMA confirms that U of T will add to this strength by growing its number of graduate students and refocusing its teacher education program towards its existing master's-level programs at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), as announced this past spring (details can be found in this May 2 news release). Overall, provincially-funded graduate enrolment at U of T is expected to grow to 11,850 by the year 2016-17, including an additional allocation of 580 master’s and PhD spaces.  This allocation is in addition to the 223 master's spaces allocated to U of T in December 2013 to support 2014-15 growth, the spaces remaining from earlier allocations, and the conversion of unfilled PhD to master’s spaces (which together total 493 spaces). Consequently, the University of Toronto now has 1,073 incremental graduate spaces (817 master’s and 256 PhD) to fill over the next three years—an ambitious goal. 

Entrepreneurship: The SMA recognizes that U of T is a leader in knowledge translation and entrepreneurship, spawning 81 new start-up companies over the past five years. Further, it notes that the University will expand entrepreneurship opportunities for students on all three campuses by introducing new for-credit entrepreneurship courses and bolstering the role of its entrepreneurship accelerators.

While we still have significant challenges ahead, the SMA is an important recognition of our strengths and an important message of support for U of T’s continuing leadership role among Ontario’s post-secondary institutions.

The attached full SMA document can be found at www.utoronto.ca/sites/default/files/about/final-signed-SMA.pdf.