The external Third-Party Review has released their recommendations and will share them at the townhall tomorrow ( Thursday Dec. 10th at 1 p.m.)   Please try to attend.  OCADFA has been briefed on their report’s recommendations, here is a summary of concerns you need to know about:


Lack of meaningful consultation. 

  • This review was conducted without direct consultation with OCADSU.  We’ve been told there was not enough time, but we don’t buy that.  Any comprehensive review of a university requires meaningful engagement with students. 
  • The recommendations of the review have already been endorsed publicly by the BoG Chair and Administration has already struck an Administrative working group to mobilize the review and establish timelines.  The top-heavy management style nullifies input from those on the ground: faculty, students and staff.  

Meaningless Comparators

  • The review compared OCADU with UofT, UOIT and Nipissing.  These are not meaningful comparators as they don’t offer similar curriculum.  NSCAD & Emily Carr have protected class sizes because they understand the value of studio-based education is derived from small class caps.  In fact, NSCAD reduced course caps on traditionally large Art History courses from around 90 to around 40 because the recent consensus among online delivery experts is that courses shouldn’t have more than 35 or 40 students. 

Poor Timing of Third-Party Review 

  • The Board of Governors imposed this review on our new President, Ana Serrano. It’s an unfair imposition on a new President who took the helm amidst a global pandemic, when OCAD U is not running in any recognizable format. The reviewers were not provided with an opportunity to observe studio-based learning at OCAD U, so it should come as no surprise this review fails to recognize its importance.  

Review Recommendations:

The review identified a basket of revenue generating/expense cutting recommendations. Some we like, some we reject outright and others need qualified implementation.

1. Restore enrolments 

2. Raise international enrolments to 30% of total

3. Continue to transform studio-based learning

4. Partnerships that generate net revenue

5. Take action on efficiencies

6. Advocate for publicly-funded higher education

What we like:

Advocate for publicly-funded higher education 

The University should participate fully in sector-wide advocacy to improve government funding for university education.  An advocacy campaign steered by Administration, OCADSU, OPSEU and OCADFA can be effective in building awareness of the funding crisis for post-secondary education in Ontario. OCADFA also recommends we build an inter-university campaign with the other GTA universities. 

Funding of Canadian universities in 1982 comprised 82.7 per cent of university operating revenues; by 2012, that percentage went down to 54.9 per cent. By 2019, in Ontario, universities’ receipt of government grants represented a paltry 24 per cent of total university revenues.  Ontario operating grants per university student are the lowest of the ten provinces. 

  • Additionally, the University should refresh its government relations strategy on OCAD U-specific requests to take into account its current assessment of its post-COVID needs.  

This snapshot of disparity in funding across the country is a glaring illustration of how inadequately OCAD U is funded. 

Provincial grants per domestic FTE student$7,700$17,300$15,500

Restore enrolments to previous peaks by 2024-25

We can attract and retain students by providing the best art & design studio-based education in the country.  A commitment to increased enrolment needs to be matched with a commitment to resourcing what we do best. 

What we reject:

Continue to transform studio-based learning.  

This is FLOW on steroids. It means drastic reductions in sections offered to students, which necessarily lead to a correlating drastic increase to class sizes – especially when you factor in increased enrollment

Year2019-202020-21 (start of flow)2022-23 (completion of flow)2025-26 (recommended)

The recommendations call for an increase in enrolment, but a decrease in classes: this is a contradiction.  Class sizes will expand with the reduction of sections. Not only will the debasement of studio-driven learning compromise OCAD U’s core identity it will also lead to a diminished student learning experience, which will suppress enrolment. We’d be compromising the most attractive feature of OCAD U which entices students to enrol here – small studio-based learning opportunities with unrivaled access to world class practitioners and educators. 

  • A fully remote first-year curriculum for students who would prefer this (e.g. international students, students who live in remote places).  This extreme adoption of online delivery is anathema to OCAD U studio-based curriculum. What are the frameworks to safeguard academic freedom and intellectual property rights as we sacrifice studio-based learning?
  • Intensify teaching load and lessen research and service obligations for those who would prefer it.  Unique to the mission of universities education is the symbiotic relationship between research/creative practice and teaching. Additionally, this utilitarian vision of instruction strips away the collegial governance structure that guards the academic integrity, academic freedom and autonomy of universities to perform their fundamental mission in society: seeking knowledge for the greater good. 

What Needs Qualified Discussion:

Increase international enrolment to 30% of total enrolment.  

Any increase of international students in our classrooms need to be matched with adequate resources for services support the success of the student and the faculty’s capacity to address unique needs of international students. Currently, the university has failed to do this.  International students report distress as being treated like cash cows. 

Take Action on Efficiencies: Reducing non-teaching staff.

This depends on which non-teaching staff units are affected. Some obvious concerns arise. Expand the undergraduate population but reduce staffing means increased workload for everyone, academic and non-academic staff alike.  Amongst non-teaching staff, turnover is high, workplace morale is low, for OPSEU members, the last contract process was tense and members rejected the contract their bargaining team presented during negotiations.  

Partnerships that generate net revenue

  • Corporate partnerships can compromise academic integrity and academic freedom. Public universities cannot build revenue dependency on privatization of our services.  
  • OCADU Co. has lost money from day one. We need to cut our losses and consolidate efforts under Continuing Studies. 

OCADFA Alternative Budget 

Thanks to all of you who came out to the Board of Governor’s meeting this Monday. It was an impressive turnout!   We had 73 people in attendance. It was great to see faculty, staff and students –  the people who embody OCAD U show up in such great numbers.  Over 200 people signed the public letter supporting OCADFA’s Alternative Budget

OCADFA presented the Alternative Budget as a political exercise to remind the BoG that our fiscal planning must reflect our Academic Plans and our mission statement.  Prioritizing the student experience, academic integrity and equity are words that are empty without resources to back them up.  OCAD U’s commitment to equity and human rights is not mirrored in its current labour practices.  A recent OCADFA survey revealed the majority of sessional professors do not make enough money to raise them above the poverty line. 

We produced a budget that:

  • reversed the 13% cut in academic compensation and invested in emergency student services by reallocating revenue nestled inside contingency funds, capital assets and money losing ventures like OCAD U Co. 
  • argued for aggressive fundraising targets and advocacy for public funding
  • built revenue by retaining students, not assuming attrition  

Thanks to OCADFA members b.h. Yael & Mary Eileen Wennekers for supplementing our presentation with personal statements.  We also yielded some of our allotted time to students, thanks to Moksha Khanna and Mehnaz Lamia from OCADSU. 

Out of this campaign we formed OCAD United, a coalition of OCAD U faculty, staff, students and community members.  OCAD United will continue to meet to activate collegial governance and student engagement at the university. The mobilization efforts of OCAD United will now support our capacity to ensure that recommendations from the external third party review are met with a coordinated voice from internal OCAD U community members.

In solidarity,

Min Sook