Policy Advice

The Council has been asked by the Ontario government to provide leadership in creating a quality framework for the postsecondary education sector; to monitor and report on accessibility to the government and Ontarians; to encourage inter-institutional transfer; and to advise on system planning and inter-jurisdictional competitiveness.

We will make recommendations on the steps which should be taken to improve the quality of, and accessibility to, postsecondary education programs. We will advise the government on targets that should be set to improve postsecondary education and the timeframes for achieving those targets. We will also provide the minister with recommendations on performance measures that can be used to evaluate the sector.

The Council has developed an inclusive approach in the creation of its policy advice to the Minister, taking into account a full range of perspectives.  Research garnered from its publications, events, consultations with its stakeholders will all be considered. 

A policy approved by the HEQCO Board of Directors requires the Council's advice to be provided in confidence to the Minister, followed by a four month embargo period during which the Minister may consider the advice.  After this period, the advice will be made public by HEQCO.

The Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario will publish its advice to the Minister on its website in due course.

Provincial government must adopt more active role in system planning
Ontario College and University Strategic Mandate Agreements
April 4, 2013

Government must play a more active, assertive and purposeful role to drive system-level planning and change, according to an Expert Panel convened by the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO) that reviewed Strategic Mandate Agreement submissions from Ontario’s 44 public colleges and universities.

The Panel’s report, Quality: Shifting the Focus: A Report from the Expert Panel to Assess the Strategic Mandate Agreement Submissions resulted from one of a series of initiatives by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU) to strengthen Ontario’s public postsecondary sector. MTCU launched the process to establish Strategic Mandate Agreements (SMA) with each of the postsecondary institutions “that will strongly inform future decisions, including allocation decisions and program approvals.”

As part of that process, MTCU requested that HEQCO establish a peer review panel to evaluate the SMAs in terms of their “ability to achieve significant improvements in productivity, quality and affordability through both innovation and differentiation.”  

The SMA exercise was intended to address at least three desired outcomes:

  • To promote the government’s stated goal of increasing the differentiation of the Ontario postsecondary system by asking each of Ontario’s postsecondary institutions to articulate an institutional mandate statement identifying its distinctive strengths or aspirations and to identify key objectives aligned with that aspiration. 
  • To advance and inform the discussion about how the Ontario system could increase its productivity so that it could continue to deliver a quality education to more students within the financial constraints expected in the public sector.
  • To elicit the best thinking from institutions about innovations and reforms that would support higher quality learning and, in its most ambitious form, transform Ontario’s public postsecondary system. 

“Given the multiple objectives and the time and other constraints inherent in this exercise,” says the report, “the Panel believes that its greatest value added is to extract recurring and dominant themes from the SMAs and to provide commentary and advice to government based on these themes to advance the government’s thinking, directions and actions.” [Read more...]

Ontario postsecondary system must improve productivity to sustain quality
December 6, 2012

While Ontario’s colleges and universities are already quite productive, constrained resources and increased demand mean the system must increase productivity to maintain quality, according to a preliminary report by the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO).

The report, The Productivity of the Ontario Public Postsecondary System, was initiated at the request of the provincial government to identify opportunities for postsecondary system improvement. It notes that increased productivity can result from government redesign of the postsecondary system and how it is funded, and at the institutional level by attention to faculty workload distribution. [Read more...]

Performance Indicators For The Public Postsecondary System In Ontario
A Consultation Paper Prepared by the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO)

July 6, 2012

The purpose of this Consultation Paper is to seek your comments, feedback, and advice on a HEQCO-led project to develop a set of performance indicators to monitor, evaluate, and improve Ontario’s public postsecondary system.

For clarity, this project is designed to allow HEQCO to better fulfill its legislated mandate to provide an evaluation of the overall state of Ontario’s postsecondary system. This project is not designed to evaluate the performance of, or rank, individual institutions. As such, this project is not related to any data collection exercise HEQCO may be asked to initiate by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities in light of its recently-announced consultation process around transformation of Ontario’s postsecondary sector. [Read More...]

Advice on the benefits of greater differentiation of Ontario's university sector
October 26, 2010

While several of Ontario’s 20 universities are internationally ranked, pressures on the postsecondary system are palpable. Increased enrollment is jeopardizing the range and quality of programs while a changing labour market demands postsecondary credentials. How can Ontario’s universities improve access, quality and international competitiveness while ensuring a system that is both sustainable and accountable?

A new report from the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO) says universities should set measureable goals based on their strengths, and the provincial government should base new funding on whether those goals are met. The results, according to The Benefits of Greater Differentiation of Ontario’s University Sector, would produce a postsecondary system that is more cohesive, more fluid, more sustainable and higher quality.

HEQCO president and CEO Harvey Weingarten, with report co-author and HEQCO research director Fiona Deller, embraced the provincial government’s challenge to explore whether a more strongly differentiated set of universities would help improve the overall performance and sustainability of the system, and help Ontario compete internationally. With input from student groups and university and college leaders, the report builds on HEQCO’s research and best thinking on the postsecondary sector.

Read the full report

Advice on the structure of the Multi-Year Accountability Agreements with Ontario postsecondary institutions
November 3, 2009

Advice on the next generation of Multi-Year Accountability Agreements was sought by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities in the documents of HEQCO’s formation. In responding to this request, HEQCO has worked closely with, and continues to participate in, a joint working group with Ministry staff to develop the next-generation accountability agreements.

Our recommendations arise from an extensive consultation and research process, including expert workshops, commissioned external research, formal and informal discussions with stakeholders and feedback on presentations of preliminary ideas to gatherings of college, university and Ministry personnel.

Letter to the Minister
Proposed Framework

Advice on whether to establish polytechnic institutions and on system design
February 2, 2009

The Council was asked by the Minister during the Spring of 2008 to provide him with policy advice on whether to create polytechnic institutions in Ontario. The Council undertook several research projects and consulted with stakeholders on the issue.

At its December 2008 meeting, the Council's Board of Directors considered several options that emerged in the course of conducting research. The Board determined that the issue of polytechnics in Ontario should be considered as part of a full review of the design of Ontario's postsecondary education system. The aim of this review should be to ensure that students have access to a full range of learning opportunities that would prepare them for the next generation of jobs. The Board thus recommended that the Minister conduct a full review of the PSE system's design and over the short term take steps to promote better collaboration among colleges and universities.

Letter to the Minister

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