Government of Ontario releases Differentiation Policy Framework

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On Friday, November 29, 2013, the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU) released its policy framework for differentiation in Ontario’s university and college sector. According to the document, MTCU views differentiation as “a primary policy driver for the system.” As such, the framework will be used to inform the Strategic Mandate Agreement (SMA) process and on-campus initiatives like program prioritization.

The document lays out six “components” of differentiation:

  1. Jobs, innovation, and economic development
  2. Teaching and learning
  3. Student population
  4. Research and graduate education
  5. Program offerings
  6. Institutional collaboration to support student mobility.

The framework also identifies “strategic enrolment” and “financial sustainability” as key areas of focus going forward. For each of the components, a series of metrics are proposed with the suggestion that optional, institution-specific measures will also be used.

It is not clear from the framework how MTCU plans to use the components and metrics to guide differentiation. Will the government be using the metrics to set goals and therefore influence institutional behavior? Will institutions be able to define their own objectives within each component? Are the metrics descriptive or prescriptive? OCUFA will be seeking clarity on these questions and more in the coming weeks. We will also be analyzing the framework in detail for our members.

For more information on the Differentiation Agenda and how it relates to SMAs and program prioritization, please read our fact sheet Ontario’s Differentiation Agenda: Frequently Asked Questions.

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