The UTSC Academic Affairs Committee (AAC) and the UTSC Campus Affairs Committee (CAC) met on January 10 and January 11, respectively. During these meetings, university administrators unveiled construction, occupancy, and student intake plans for the upcoming Scarborough Academy of Medicine and Integrated Health (SAMIH). 

They reported on the decrease in active academic integrity cases at UTSC, as well as concerns surrounding artificial intelligence (AI) tools. They also presented the campus’ plans for online learning and new courses for the 20232024 academic year.

SAMIH updates

Announced in March 2022 by U of T and the Government of Ontario, the SAMIH is intended to address Ontario’s strained healthcare system and the shortage of healthcare workers in Scarborough and Durham.

The plan, presented by the SAMIH’s planning committee, will be up for approval by the Governing Council on February 15. 

At the CAC, UTSC Director of Business Operations and Campus Development Therese Ludlow said that the four main divisions that will occupy the upcoming SAMIH will be the Temerty Faculty of Medicine, the Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing, the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy, and UTSC.

At full enrollment, Ludlow estimated that the SAMIH’s annual graduating class will consist of up to 50 physicians, 30 physician assistants, 30 nurse practitioners, 40 physical therapists, and 300 undergraduate life science students. 

Construction for the SAMIH is set to begin in October 2023, and the building is scheduled to be ready for occupancy in time for the 20262027 academic year. Previously, the SAMIH was set to break ground in early 2023 and begin operations by the 20252026 academic year. 

At the CAC, UTSC Vice-President and Principal Wisdom Tettey explained that the first cohort of the SAMIH medical students will mostly start at UTSG during the 2024–2025 academic year, while undergraduate life sciences students will start at UTSC. Once the SAMIH opens, Tettey said that U of T will transition MD students who started at UTSG into the SAMIH.

“The idea here is to make sure that the construction does not hold back progress toward addressing the healthcare needs of our community,” said Tettey.

In response to a concern raised by a committee member about the current lack of spaces at UTSC to accommodate the first SAMIH cohorts, Tettey emphasized that the Instructional Centre (IC) 2 building will significantly increase UTSC’s classroom capacity. IC 2 is currently under construction and is set to open in 2024.

Academic integrity and AI tools

The dean’s office at UTSC saw an 88 per cent decrease in the number of academic integrity cases from April 2022 to January 2023.

Currently, the dean’s office is handling 33 cases of academic integrity violations, reported UTSC Vice-Dean Recruitment, Enrolment, and Student Success David Zweig at the AAC meeting. Five of these active cases come from the recently concluded fall exam period.

In April 2022, the number of cases at UTSC was 278, of which 96 were from 2020 and earlier. Zweig reported that the dean’s office has now resolved all pre-2021 cases.

Zweig also addressed concerns about students’ potential use of AI tools to accomplish term assessments. He specified ChatGPT — a viral, advanced AI chatbot released by OpenAI in November 2022 that can generate graduate-level essays — as a concern. 

Zweig said that U of T is working on its tri-campus response and approach to AI tools. “As soon as we know more, we can provide more detailed information and guidance for instructors,” he said.

Zweig shared his personal opinion on the matter, which is that U of T must shift its pedagogical practices as opposed to creating new academic integrity regulations. “I feel like we’re never going to win this race, in terms of keeping up with the advancement of these technologies,” he said. “We have to… shift how we think about teaching and assessment.”

Plans for online learning

UTSC is offering around five per cent of its courses online this winter term, reported UTSC Vice-Principal Academic and Dean William Gough at the AAC meeting. He said that some of these courses transferred online in order to accommodate instructors.

Last fall, online courses comprised around three per cent of course offerings at UTSC.

Gough also reported that the dean’s office is developing a small number of courses that will be permanently offered online. A team led by Vice-Dean Teaching, Learning and Undergraduate Programs Katherine Larson will develop criteria to evaluate whether certain courses can be delivered online while remaining “high quality.”

Gough said that these courses could benefit students who have long commute times to UTSC. According to a 2018 Varsity article, over 75 per cent of U of T students are commuters. Previous Varsity opinion articles also discussed UTSC students’ long commute times on the TTC to get to campus. 

More broadly, U of T is working to offer a “robust set” of online course offerings in the summer terms moving forward, according to Gough. He said that these courses will benefit students who live with disabilities and students who want to complete their degrees faster.

New and retired courses at UTSC

At the AAC meeting, Larson announced that UTSC will introduce 17 new courses in the 20232024 academic year: two from the Department of Global Development Studies, two from the Department of Historical and Cultural Studies, three from the Department of English, five from the Department of Computer and Mathematical Sciences, and five from the Department of Political Sciences.

For one, MATA34H3 — Calculus for Management will be a new introductory calculus course for management students. This means that MATA32H3 and MATA33H3 — the current calculus prerequisites for admission into Bachelor of Business Administration programs at UTSC — will be retired starting next fall. 

After consulting with the management department, Larson concluded that “a one-term calculus course for [management] students will meet the demands of Management programs in mathematically sound and efficient ways.”

POLB56H3 — Critical Issues in Canadian Politics and POLB57H3 — The Canadian Constitution and the Charter of Rights will also collectively replace POLB50Y3 — Canadian Government and Politics. Currently, POLB50Y3 is a requirement for the specialist and major programs in political science, as well as the minor program in public law.

This means that the similarly titled POLC68H3 — The Constitution of Canada and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms will also be retired starting next fall.

The AAC and CAC will next meet on February 8 and 9, respectively.

Editor’s note (January 28): An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that the SAMIH was going to open in 2023 instead of 2024.