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Building a Stronger Postsecondary Education System

Archived News Release

Building a Stronger Postsecondary Education System

Strategic Mandate Agreements Highlight Strengths of Colleges, Universities

Ministry of Colleges and Universities

Ontario is moving forward with the transformation of its postsecondary education system by helping institutions build on their individual strengths, ensuring students continue to have access to innovative and affordable colleges and universities.

Strategic mandate agreements have been signed with all 45 publicly assisted colleges and universities, which will help guide future growth by encouraging more focus on unique strengths, while avoiding or limiting expansion in academic areas where programs already exist.

The agreements make sure institutions are connected to various levels of the economy -- from local to global -- so students can gain experience through opportunities such as co-op programs and applied research, helping them create new businesses or find highly skilled work that will benefit Ontario. For example, a school such as Western University serves thousands of students from across Canada and around the world with a full spectrum of undergraduate and graduate programs, while the Université de Hearst focuses on offering francophone students a unique learning environment in northeastern Ontario that supports local communities by encouraging students to study and live in the region after graduation. George Brown -- a college in downtown Toronto -- is a leader in identifying emerging needs in the economy and developing programs that prepare students for these in-demand jobs.

Strengthening Ontario's postsecondary education system is part of the government's economic plan to invest in people, build modern infrastructure and support a dynamic and innovative business climate.

Quick Facts

  • Strategic mandate agreements were negotiated with individual institutions based on Ontario's Differentiation Policy Framework for Postsecondary Education with the first cycle of agreements in effect from 2014-17.
  • Research shows a differentiated postsecondary education system supports greater quality, competitiveness, accountability and sustainability by allowing institutions to spend resources more efficiently, focusing on their areas of strength.
  • The province released its Major Capacity Expansion Policy Framework in December 2013 to guide the development of new or expanded campuses in underserved areas with a Sept. 26, 2014 deadline for publicly assisted universities and colleges of applied arts and technology to submit final submissions.
  • The province’s 30% Off Tuition Grant helped more than 230,000 students start college or university last year.
  • Full-time enrolment in Ontario’s postsecondary system has grown by more than 170,000 students since 2003 — more than in any comparable period in the province’s history.
  • Ontario has increased funding to postsecondary education by 83 per cent over the past 10 years.

Additional Resources


“Today represents a real step forward in our ongoing goal to modernize the postsecondary education system in Ontario, improve the overall student experience and ensure that our colleges and universities are sustainable long into the future. By working with institutions to build on the strengths they define for themselves, we can continue to move towards a system where institutions work together as complementary parts of the province's postsecondary education system and avoid unnecessary duplication.”

Reza Moridi

Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities

“Collectively, these strategic mandate agreements reveal the extraordinary breadth of opportunities available to students at Ontario’s universities, as well as the tremendous impact they have on society and the economy, locally and globally. While universities prepare graduates for careers, the agreements demonstrate that they offer so much more, including life-changing research, innovations in teaching and learning, entrepreneurship and access for under-represented groups”

Bonnie M. Patterson

President and CEO, Council of Ontario Universities

“We are pleased that colleges and the ministry have been able to identify priorities to strengthen higher education in Ontario. We look forward to working with the government to strengthen college education throughout the province.”

Linda Franklin

President and CEO, Colleges Ontario

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Education and Training Government