Trinity College, St. Michael’s College, and Victoria College have a unique relationship with the University of Toronto.

Unlike other colleges at the university, these colleges are federated and are governed as separate universities by their own provincial Acts, separate from the University of Toronto Act.

The governing framework agreement for the three federated colleges is reviewed and revised by the colleges and U of T every decade, with the most recent review occurring in 2008. Operational agreements between U of T and the colleges are reviewed every five years.

Sioban Nelson, Vice-Provost, Academic Programs, emphasized the extent of the separation: “They are definitely separate from us, as you say governance and jurisdiction… They are their own places. They have their own presidents, their own boards. They are different institutions.”

The relationship between U of T and the federated colleges is best described as a partnership that the university is “very enriched by and utterly committed to,” according to Nelson.

“We see them as extremely important partners in our education mission and in our student experience mission. They have very distinctive personalities, and all the colleges have very different personalities and climates, so that the student experience is distinctive in each of them,” Nelson explained.

This arrangement dates back to 1904, where these federated colleges started out as religious institutions wanting to train their next generation of clergy. Trinity College continues to be affiliated with the Anglican Church, while St. Michael’s remains a Catholic Institution, and Victoria College has ties to the United Church of Canada. These denominational institutions eventually joined the secular, publicly funded University of Toronto in order to build credibility and financial stability.