and ’70s, when many colleges were subsumed into Quebec’s junior-college
CEGEP system. The remaining vestiges of affiliation in Quebec are École
Polytechnique and HEC Montréal, which share a campus and a certain
number of resources with Université de Montréal.
“Affiliated” and “federated” are easily confused terms, even by those
who wear them – and the definitions can be a bit fluid. In Ontario, for example, Mr. Trick says that whether an institution is affiliated or federated,
“the practical consequences are the same.” In an affiliation, the institution
may suspend some or all of the degree-granting powers it has so that graduates can receive credentials from another university, sometimes called
the “parent” for lack of a better word (affiliated institutions generally disapprove of the term). Many schools with theological or divinity studies
continue to confer those degrees independently and do not suspend the
privilege. The affiliating institution’s degree programs may otherwise be
subject to the approval of the parent institution’s senate, even though the
affiliate still maintains its own governing board.
A federation, generally speaking, is a specific type of affiliation where
two or more institutions come together to create a new university that is
recognized by civic authorities and is eligible for government funding.
That was the case when the existing University of Sudbury (previously
the Jesuit Collège du Sacré-Coeur) came together with the new Huntington University (United Church) and Thornloe University (Anglican) to
form the Laurentian Federation in 1960-61.
“Canada isn’t unique in having these arrangements. But there does seem
to be a certain penchant for them in the Canadian experience,” says OISE’s
Dr. Jones. “Perhaps it’s because federation is embedded in our nation. So the
notion of entering into these kinds of arrangements with some division of
responsibilities … made sense to individuals early on in Canadian history.”
How those responsibilities have been divided, powers retained, enhanced or given up, what happens to funding and what students have
access to as a result, have been as varied as there are agreements. When it
comes to the actual written agreements – some simple two-pagers, others
going on much longer–“there are no two of them the same,” says Dr. Bonin.
“They’re complex, important relationships and also evolving,” confirms
Mayo Moran, provost of the University of Trinity College, which has been
federated with the University of Toronto since 1904 and is home base to
1,800 students out of a total of 52,000 on U of T’s downtown St. George
campus. As a U of T “fed head,” Dr. Moran reports to her college’s own
board; employees have their own labour agreement and a separate pen-
sion plan, and the college has its own endowment fund and owns the land
its Gothic Revival building sits on. Like U of T’s two other federated in-
stitutions – St. Michael’s and Victoria – a governing framework agreement
is reviewed and revised by the college and U of T every decade, with an
operational agreement reviewed every five years.
“Trin” students take courses from across the wider St. George campus,
yet also enjoy unique traditions that reach back to the school’s Anglican
roots – even if recent students are more attracted to the college’s resem-
blance to Harry Potter’s Hogwarts school. These traditions include wear-
ing academic gowns to formal occasions such as regular Oxbridge-like
“High Table” dinners that are preceded by a Latin grace and served after
evensong. At Christmas, the silverware of 19th-century Trinity founder
Bishop John Strachan is pulled out and the fireplace gets lit for a traditional
meal served in the wood-panelled hall named in his honour. Elements
like these help students to feel “like you’re part of a very distinct entity
within the large and wonderful university,” says Dr. Moran.
There is no such option – and no worry about getting lost in the crowd
– at the francophone Université de Hearst in Northeastern Ontario. At
140 students, it is among Canada’s smallest affiliates, operating campuses
in Hearst, Kapuskasing and Timmins. First affiliated with the University
of Sudbury and later Laurentian University, the mother ship’s campus is
up to a seven-hour drive away, making it easy for Hearst to have an inde-
pendent feel. As well, Hearst receives its funding directly from Ontario’s
government and has its own strategic mandate agreement, which is not
typical for an Ontario affiliate.
Affiliation cheerleaders often point out that affiliates are in a better
position to innovate than their larger partner institutions because of their
size. At the same time, innovation may be key to their survival. That’s true
of Hearst, which last year introduced a different approach to course deliv-
ery in a bid to increase enrolment.
Instead of taking multiple courses at once, Hearst students take one
course intensively over three weeks before moving on to the next (a sys-
tem in place also at Quest University in Squamish, B.C.). Since starting
the block scheduling system in 2014, the school has seen a 40 percent
increase in enrolment, including going from next to no students from out-
side the region to 30 percent now.
Calling it “a game changer” which has resulted in “deeper learning”
for students, Hearst’s rector, Pierre Ouellette, says such a move would be
hard for a larger university to pull off, even though Hearst still required
“Canada isn’t unique in having these
arrangements. But there does seem to be a certain
penchant for them in the Canadian experience.”