Ontario Newsroom

Building Capacity to Meet Local Demand

Archived Backgrounder

Building Capacity to Meet Local Demand

Ministry of Colleges and Universities

Making Evidence-Based Decisions

Ontario released a Major Capacity Expansion Policy Framework in December 2013 to guide growth in the postsecondary sector in a manner that would consider Ontario's evolving demographic and enrolment trends as well as the province's need to act responsibly within its current fiscal framework.

In March 2014, the province released a competitive call for proposals to postsecondary institutions for new projects that would serve areas of the province where future demand for undergraduate education will be strong and gaps in access are expected.

The government received 27 notices of intent and 19 final submissions. After ministry screening to determine whether proposals were in scope of the Major Capacity Expansion policy, 13 proposals were assessed by an evaluation panel, using the following general criteria:

  • Ensuring any significant expansion of local postsecondary education opportunities are for students in underserved areas with growing demand based on long-term demographic trends
  • Ensuring a range of programs will be offered locally and avoid any unwarranted duplication of existing programming
  • Ensuring that there will be demonstrated local economic benefits
  • Ensuring that the institution would drive quality, innovation, and competitiveness in the programming that it offered
  • Ensuring affordability for students and the province, which included confirming support from host communities.

The evaluation was conducted by a panel of Ontario deputy ministers and the president and CEO of the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario.

To facilitate the process and ensure high-quality final submissions by the September 2014 deadline, Ontario held two information sessions with interested applicants in August 2014. The ministry answered questions from institutions about criteria and their proposals, ensuring everyone had the same information. A summary of answers to questions raised by institutions was provided to the full group of applicants.

Although enrolment growth is expected to be limited over the next few years, demographics suggest after 2020, Ontario will need more postsecondary spaces in areas expected to experience strong enrolment growth. Demographic projections and analysis of enrolment trends over time show that, full-time, undergraduate, degree-level enrolment demand could increase by 56,000 to 90,000 by 2035.

In some areas of the province -- especially in GTA communities such as York, Peel and Halton -- enrolment demand is expected to grow sooner and quickly.

New Markham Campus

Ontario is helping to establish a new university campus in Markham so more students can attend postsecondary education closer to home. The evaluation panel unanimously ranked the York University - Markham Centre proposal first among the proposals they assessed.

The York University - Markham Centre campus will be located north of Highway 407 between Kennedy Road and Warden Avenue in York Region, and will offer a broad range of business, arts and social science-related programs.

York University - Markham Centre's proposal, in partnership with Seneca College, was selected by the province for its potential to deliver undergraduate education to a rapidly growing community without a university campus, improve quality and innovation, achieve cost effectiveness and help build Ontario's economy.

Second Call for Proposals in Halton/Peel

The government is planning a second competitive call for proposals under the Major Capacity Expansion Policy Framework that will be open to projects to principally serve Peel and Halton regions.

After York Region, Halton and Peel are the fastest growing areas of the province and are currently underserved in terms of local postsecondary capacity. Currently, the combined 18-24 year old population of Halton/Peel is almost 200,000 and is anticipated to grow by almost 20 per cent by 2035.

More detailed information will be made available to institutions, communities and the public when the second call for proposals is released in spring 2016.

Media Contacts



Education and Training Children and Youth