Agreement supports student learning experience

Agreement supports student learning experience

August 14, 2014


The Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities recently signed Strategic Mandate Agreements (SMA) with all of Ontario’s publically funded colleges and universities, including Queen’s. Provost Alan Harrison spoke with Craig Leroux, Senior Communications Officer, about what the SMA means for Queen’s.

Craig Leroux: What exactly is the SMA?

Alan Harrison: Two years ago the province began a process with all Ontario colleges and universities to define their mandates using, as context, the province’s differentiation framework for postsecondary education. The government intends that the framework will inform the development of policy, procedures and funding levers over the coming years.

The outcome of this process, the Strategic Mandate Agreement (SMA) between Queen’s and the province, affirms our mandate as the research-intensive university with a transformative student experience.

CL: What does it mean for Queen’s?

AH: The SMA is descriptive rather than prescriptive, in that it describes much of what Queen’s has been doing, and plans to do, to enhance the student learning experience, with an emphasis on expanded credentials at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, and experiential and entrepreneurial education. It will help inform government decisions with respect to Queen’s over the life of the agreement, from 2014 to 2017.

CL: Does the SMA point Queen’s in a new direction?

AH: From the beginning we approached the SMA process as a way to advance Queen’s existing vision, so, no, it is not a new direction. The SMA was developed in parallel with the Strategic Framework, and it is entirely consistent with the university’s focus on continuing to be known as a place where the student learning experience is second to none. In turn, the framework is appropriately reflective of our Academic Plan and our Strategic Research Plan.

CL: Institutional autonomy is an issue that some have raised in connection to the SMAs. Is that a concern for you?

AH: No, I don’t have that concern. The SMA is an agreement, not orders, and the principal would not have signed if he felt it was pointing us in a direction that was inconsistent with where we as an institution have already decided we are going.

CL: The SMA allocates roughly 300 new graduate spaces to Queen’s. Is that a good result?

AH: It is an excellent result. We take it as an indication that the government recognizes Queen’s as a place with a particular strength in graduate education. Included among the new spaces are 10 from the government’s Priorities Envelope for a proposed master’s program in Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Read the Strategic Mandate Agreement 2014-2017