OCUFA has obtained a copy of the Strategic Mandate Agreement (SMA) template: SMA Agreement Templates 2014 that will be used by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU) to structure their agreement with your university administration. As it currently stands, the SMA will be used to make decisions about future program approvals, as well as graduate allocations. The template is attached for your reference.
The template reflects the principles, components, and metrics expressed in MTCU’s Differentiation Policy Framework: Differentiation Policy Framework Analysis FINAL, and can be seen as part of the Ministry’s push to “differentiate” the sector. The SMA template appears to reflect MCTU’s stated intent to pursue differentiation in collaboration with individual institutions, and according the institution’s self-identified strengths. OCUFA’s analysis of the Differentiation Policy Framework is also attached to this email.
There are several areas of potential concern in the template:
1. The template approach suggests that MTCU will be compiling the final SMA agreement from each institution’s SMA proposal, indicating greater MTCU power to “edit” proposals than was originally indicated.
2. It continues to advance a “standardized” process for differentiation. OCUFA has argued that using standardized metrics runs the risk of damaging organic diversity in the interest of a narrow vision of differentiation.
3. The template reiterates the government’s desire to revisit the university funding formula. However, the Ministry again stated that this work will be done in consultation with the sector.
4. It is not clear whether new undergraduate spaces will be allocated through the SMAs, as with the graduate expansion.
5. The template also indicates that the government wishes to update the program approval process. This is a new area of interest, and it is not clear what needs to be updated, or what the updates might look like.
6. The template suggests that institutions will continue to be “accountable to the Ministry with respect to effective and efficient use of resources” but does not indicate the design and character of accountability mechanisms. There is some suggestion that the current Multi-Year Accountability Agreements (MYAAs) will be re-purposed as SMA progress reports.
OCUFA will be working with MTCU, and with the Council of Ontario Universities, to clarify these potential areas of concerns. Where clear problems are identified, we will push for more appropriate policies.
If you have not already done so, please request a copy of your institution’s SMA proposal. If shared, this document will provide important information on how administrators at your university are interpreting MTCU’s Differentiation Policy Framework. It will also provide insight into how the final SMA is likely to look.
In the meantime, please do not hesitate to get in touch with any comments or questions.
Mark Rosenfeld, Ph.D
Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations
17 Isabella Street
Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4Y 1M7
Tel: 416-979-2117 x229
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