Ontario’s Vision for Postsecondary Education

Ontario’s colleges and universities will drive creativity, innovation, knowledge, and community engagement through teaching and research. They will put students first by providing the best possible learning experience for all qualified learners in an affordable and financially sustainable way, ensuring high quality and globally competitive outcomes for students and Ontario’s creative economy.

York University’s Vision/Mandate

Our students and faculty will be more engaged with the teaching and learning process and with each other. Our linkages with the broader community, both in terms of the teaching and learning process as well as through our research activities, will have broadened and deepened. We will have established a new Medical School and a separate Faculty of Engineering. Our reputation as a research intensive institution contributing to innovation, social and economic development in the Greater Toronto Area, the province, Canada and the world will have been solidified and enhanced.

Aspiring to be Canada’s Engaged University, we will be seen as an innovator in pedagogy, making use of social media and other forms of technology to meet evolving student needs and creating life-long learning opportunities for part-time, mature and returning students. Our university will be a global magnet for students who will see York’s diversity as exemplifying and modeling values of global citizenship. Our reputation as a leader and innovator will have been strengthened and the pride on our campuses and amongst our alumni at where we have been and where we are going will be palpable.

(Excerpt from the 2010 Provostial White Paper)


This Strategic Mandate Agreement between the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (the Ministry) and York University outlines the role the University currently performs in the postsecondary education system and how it will build on its current strengths to achieve its vision and help drive system-wide objectives articulated by the Ministry’s Differentiation Policy Framework.

The Strategic Mandate Agreement (SMA):

  • Identifies the University’s existing institutional strengths;
  • Supports the current vision, mission, and mandate of the University within the context of the University’s governing legislation and outlines how the University’s priorities align with Ontario’s vision and Differentiation Policy Framework; and
  • Informs Ministry decision making through greater alignment of Ministry policies and processes to further support and guide the University’s areas of strength.

The term of the SMA is from April 1, 2014, to March 31, 2017. The SMA proposal submitted by the University to the Ministry has been used to inform the SMA and is appended to the agreement.

The Ministry acknowledges the University’s autonomy with respect to its academic and internal resource allocation decisions, and the University acknowledges the role of the Ministry as the Province’s steward of Ontario’s postsecondary education system.

The agreement may be amended in the event of substantive policy or program changes that would significantly affect commitments made in the SMA. Any such amendment would be mutually agreed to, dated, and signed by both signatories.

York University’s Key Areas of Differentiation

York University is a comprehensive research-intensive institution with internationally recognized programs. Located principally in the northern Greater Toronto Area, it serves a large proportion of Ontario’s undergraduate and graduate student population as well as an increasing number of international students from around the world. Since its inception 55 years ago, it has become one of the largest universities in North America.

York offers highly ranked professional programs, notably in Business and Law, and a number of York departments rank among the top 150 in the world in the QS rankings.

Distinguished by its commitment to social justice and engagement, York is a leader in knowledge mobilization and knowledge transfer, community partnership and outreach, and social and pedagogical innovation to enhance student success. In addition to multiple collaborations with both the private and non-profit sectors, York has one of the largest graduate student populations in Ontario, drawn from all over the world. York attracts more students who are the first generation in their families to attend higher education than any other Ontario university. York is Ontario’s largest provider of college-to-university transfer opportunities and continues to partner with other institutions, notably Seneca College, on increasing student mobility. York’s Glendon campus is a hub for French-language and bilingual programming in the GTA, serving central and southwestern Ontario.

Alignment with the Differentiation Policy Framework

The following outlines areas of strength agreed upon by the University and the Ministry, and the alignment of these areas of strength with the Ministry’s Differentiation Policy Framework.


The Ministry recognizes the importance of supporting institutions to evolve and acknowledges the strategic aspirations of its postsecondary education institutions; the SMA is not intended to capture all decisions and issues in the postsecondary education system, as many will be addressed through the Ministry’s policies and standard processes. The Ministry will not be approving any requests for capital funding or new program approvals, for example, through the SMA process.

Institution-Specific Aspirations

  • Given the size and comprehensiveness of York, requests for future program approvals during the course of this Agreement may include not only areas of growth but areas of strength as well. As with all universities, program approval requests will be examined based on a variety of criteria, including alignment with program areas outlined in the Agreements.
  • Creation of a York University campus in York Region in partnership with Seneca College.
  • A School of Medicine.

Ministry Notes

  • At this time, the Ministries of Health and Long-Term Care and Training, Colleges and Universities are not projecting further medical education expansion over the short and medium term.

Enrolment Growth

The strategic enrolment and planning exercise is in the context of a public commitment in the 2011 Budget to increase postsecondary education enrolment by an additional 60,000 students over 2010-11 levels. This government has demonstrated a longstanding commitment to ensuring access to postsecondary education for all qualified students.

Baseline Projected Eligible Full-Time Headcounts


York University’s planned enrolment forecast as expressed in this baseline eligible enrolment scenario is considered reasonable and in line with Ministry expectations, based on the current and projected demographic and fiscal environment.

This baseline forecast does not include new programs that will be submitted for approval, and expansion of French-language and bilingual enrolments at the Glendon campus.

Graduate Allocation

The Province committed to allocate an additional 6,000 graduate spaces in the 2011 Budget. The allocation of the balance of the 6,000 graduate spaces is informed by institutional graduate plans, metrics identified in the differentiation framework, and government priorities. Based on these considerations, the allocation for York University is provided below.


It is recognized that York’s Master’s and Doctoral programs in Engineering are at an early stage and are planned to continue to grow after 2016-17. York believes it is important to expand graduate programs to fully realize the research and commercialization benefits that are envisaged for the Lassonde School of Engineering.

Pending Ministry approval, a proportion of York’s Master’s spaces may be converted to the PhD target should York apply to do so during the term of this Agreement.

Note: For a detailed breakdown of graduate space allocations, see Appendix.

Financial Sustainability

The Ministry and the University recognize that financial sustainability and accountability are critical to achieving institutional mandates and realizing Ontario’s vision for the postsecondary education system. To this end, it is agreed that:

  • It is the responsibility of the governing board and Senior Administrators of the University to identify, track, and address financial pressures and sustainability issues. At the same time, the Ministry has a financial stewardship role. The Ministry and the University agree to work collaboratively to achieve the common goal of financial sustainability and to ensure that Ontarians have access to a full range of affordable, high-quality postsecondary education options, now and in the future; and
  • The University remains accountable to the Ministry with respect to effective and efficient use of provincial government resources and student resources covered by policy directives of the Ministry, or decisions impacting upon these, to maximize the value and impact of investments made in the postsecondary education system.

The Ministry commits to engage with the sector in spring 2014 to finalize the financial sustainability metrics to be tracked through the course of the SMAs, building on metrics already identified during discussions that took place in the fall of 2013.

Ministry/Government Commitments

Over time, the Ministry commits to aligning many of its policy, process, and funding levers with the Differentiation Policy Framework and SMAs in order to support the strengths of institutions and implement differentiation. To this end, the Ministry will:

  • Engage with both the college and university sectors around potential changes to the funding formula, beginning with the university sector in 2014-15;
  • Update the college and university program funding approval process to improve transparency and align with institutional strengths as outlined in the SMAs;
  • Streamline reporting requirements across Ministry business lines with the goals of (1) creating greater consistency of reporting requirements across separate initiatives, (2) increasing automation of reporting processes, and (3) reducing the amount of data required from institutions without compromising accountability. In the interim, the Multi-Year Accountability Report Backs will be adjusted and used as the annual reporting mechanism for metrics set out in the SMAs;
  • Consult on the definition, development, and utilization of metrics;
  • Undertake a review of Ontario’s credential options; and
  • Continue the work of the Nursing Tripartite Committee.

The Ministry and the University are committed to continuing to work together to:

  • Support student access, quality, and success;
  • Drive creativity, innovation, knowledge, and community engagement through teaching and research;
  • Increase the competitiveness of Ontario’s postsecondary education system;
  • Focus the strengths of Ontario’s institutions; and
  • Maintain a financially sustainable postsecondary education system.

Signed for and on behalf of the Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities by:

Original Signed By
Deborah Newman
Deputy Minister
Date: April 6, 2014

Signed for on behalf of York niversity by:

Original Signed By
Dr. Mamdouh Shoukri
Executive Head
Date: April 29, 2014


York University - Summary of Graduate Space Allocations to 2016-17, FTEs

2013-14 Graduate Space Target2,748.981,212.163961.14
Adjustments to Graduate Targets (pre 2015-16)-159.58-181.60-341.18
Graduate Allocation Envelopes
General Allocation Envelope---
Priorities Envelope---
Graduate Spaces Allocated to 2016-17, over 2013-14-159.58-181.60-341.18
2016-17 Graduate Space Target2,589.401,030.563,619.96


  1. Adjustments to Graduate Targets (pre 2015-16) include: (i) 2013-14 approved fungibility requests; (ii) 2014-15 final Master’s allocations; (iii) resets of graduate targets, if any; and, (iv) other Ministry commitments, including further conversions.
  2. General Allocation Envelope includes all metrics-based space allocations for 2015-16 and 2016-17.
  3. Priorities Envelope includes: (i) Ministry and institutional priorities; and, (ii) approved spaces for identified niche programs.