OCUFA releases policy statement on differentiation, analysis of SMAs

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OCUFA is pleased to release its Policy Statement of University Differentiation in Ontario and its Strategic Mandate Agreements 2014-17: Summary of Observations document. These reports were designed to assist our members in understanding and responding to the Government of Ontario’s “Differentiation Framework” and Strategic Mandate Agreements (SMAs) with university administrations. The reports have been available to our members for some time, but this is the first time they have been accessible to the general public.

Our analysis of the SMAs suggests that the government will not be taking a hand in dictating the form and content of differentiation in Ontario. The real challenge for faculty associations comes from how individual administrations choose to interpret these rather general agreements. As the report states,

“Whether a university administration claims this or that initiative falls under the rubric of differentiation and mandated by its SMA, it will still be necessary for each faculty association to be vigilant about maintaining the integrity of academic governance, faculty and academic librarian rights under collective agreements and memoranda of agreement, and the quality of academic life.”

The Policy Statement on differentiation provides a rubric for evaluating all policies emanating from the government’s Differentiation Framework. To be effective and beneficial, such policies must:

  • Preserve the academic mission of universities
  • Maintain program integrity through established processes for quality assurance
  • Recognize the relationship between teaching and research
  • Provide adequate levels of funding through a model that is stable, predictable, equitable, accountable, transparent, and easy administer

OCUFA has been assisting its member associations as the respond to the push for greater differentiation through a variety of resources of this type. We welcome the opportunity to share this material with the wider higher education community.

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