Recently, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities John Millow announced the Ontario government’s decision to determine where colleges and universities are to open new satellite campuses, no longer allowing academic institutions to make the decision first and consult the province later.
The initiative intends to avoid the uneven spread of education in Ontario — the densest hub being the southeast and the GTA, following population density. Given that a large portion of enrollment in institutions comes from the surrounding community, a satellite campus is strategic in providing education to its local area.
The University of Toronto campuses at Scarborough and Mississauga demonstrate that the project of satellite campuses can evolve beyond being a chapter of a home campus. Founded in the 1960s, they were inspired by a recommendation made by the Council of Ontario Universities to open three new liberal arts campuses, two of which would be affiliated with U of T.
While originally administrated from St. George and founded to receive an overflow of students from the downtown campus, both campuses are now full-fledged campuses in their own right, with Scarborough becoming a separate division in 1971. Mississauga became a separate unit from the Faculty of Arts and Science in 2003. The Mississauga campus was known as Erindale College until 1998, when it was officially renamed University of Toronto Mississauga.
Though with smaller student and faculty bodies, both campuses have grown to hold their own specific identities, due to unique student demographics and faculty initiatives. Notably, collaboration with local community colleges has allowed both campuses to couple an academic approach with hands-on experience.
Scarborough currently finds itself amidst a great expansion, having doubled its population since the ‘90s. An instructional centre is slated to open in late August, the biggest facility since the campus’ founding. It has recently launched its first PhD in Environmental Science.
It is also houses a program exclusive to its own campus, mental health studies, distinguished from more mainstream psychology programs in its focus on clinical psychology. The program is popular, branching into additional Masters and PhD programs. UTSC is also home to U of T’s only journalism program, one of its pairings with Centennial College.
The collaboration with Centennial allows graduates to receive certificates and diplomas in addition to their university degrees. Another example is the paramedicine program, granting graduates a paramedic license as well as a degree that allows students to pursue further graduate studies.
Mississauga is the university’s second-largest campus, and offers all traditional academic certifications. Additionally, it has its own degree options — a Bachelor of Business and Ad- ministration and a Master of Management and Professional Accounting, among several oth- ers. Similar to Scarborough, a joint effort with Sheridan College has allowed it to offer educa- tion that grants both a university degree and college accreditation, such as programs in art and art history, and theatre and drama.
UTM also hold Canada’s first forensic sci- ence institute, and is about to open an insti- tute of medicine to increase the university’s capacity to train primary care physicians and general practitioners, and offer community-oriented medical training. The campuses have also grown distinct by virtue of its student population. Laura Mat- thews, a UTSC spokesperson, comments on the excitement of living in a diverse campus.
“When Roméo Dallaire was speaking, one of our students thanked him personally be- cause she was one of the people in the refu- gee camps he helped save.”
Matthews says the wealth of perspectives and personal stories is an asset for both the faculty and the student body. “The global sto- ry is very much the story of our community.”
A satellite campus, judging from the U of T experience, offers a permeable flourishing of opportunities for both the institution and its community, often developing an identity of its own. What the process will look like under the supervision of the province has yet to be seen.