Selected Moments of the 20th Century

A work in progress edited by Daniel Schugurensky
Department of Adult Education and Counselling Psychology,
The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto (OISE/UT)


Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) created to undertake graduate programs, research, and field development

This year, under the auspices of Minister of Education William Davis, a special act of the legislature of the province of Ontario (Canada) established the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, as a graduate school of education affiliated with the University of Toronto. This special act gave the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (known as OISE) three main missions. The first was to provide graduate level programs. The second was to conduct research and disseminate its findings. The third was to engage in field development activities in education. This triple mandate made the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education a unique institution in the Canadian education landscape. This uniqueness can be attributed to two factors.

On the one hand, OISE became the only educational institution in Canada (and probably one of the few in the world) devoted exclusively to graduate teaching and research. In this respect, OISE was conceived since its inception as an educational think tank. It did not aim at teacher training but at producing high quality research and at nurturing the next generation of researchers through its masters and doctoral programs. For many years, OISE provided most of the master's-level and nearly all of the doctoral programs in education in the province of Ontario. In just two decades after its creation, OISE obtained a great reputation worldwide, particularly in areas such as French immersion, applied cognitive science, women's studies, adult education and curriculum studies.

On the other hand, the development activities offered through a variety of field centres throughout the province provided OISE with a physical presence in Ontario, connecting professors and graduate students, the school boards, administrators and teachers. Besides the field development activities, the Field Centres provided off-campus sites for courses in both graduate and Continuing Education programs, and became OISE’s contact point for students in their regions. The field development activities created an innovative approach for university-school relationships in Canada, and were highly values by teachers throughout the province. For instance, in a debate in the Ontario Legislature about the integration between OISE and the University of Toronto that took place in 1986, it was noted that the field services offered by OISE deserved special mention. It was mentioned that not only they provided invaluable service to educators throughout Ontario, but also that these services were not available from any other institution. Day after day during the course of the hearings, teachers from all over the province gave testimonies about the practical and very real assistance that OISE's field service program had been to them in their classrooms.

When OISE was created in 1965, teacher education remained at the University of Toronto, in a restructured and renamed College of Education with its own College Council and Advisory Board. By 1972, the College of Education was formally designated the Faculty of Education, University of Toronto (FEUT). Although OISE administered all admission procedures, program regulations, financial awards, and degree requirements, its admission procedures and programs were subject to the regulations of the University's School of Graduate Studies. Graduating students received University of Toronto degrees. Most courses were offered on campus, but about 25 per year were offered through OISE's Field Centres or by distance education modes of delivery. While the vast majority of programs were in English, OISE offered a small number of French language courses within a French Studies focus. ~ Since its creation, OISE has been a major centre for educational research and development in Canada, complemented by a professional research staff to assist in carrying out its research and development mandate. OISE's exclusive focus on graduate studies, research, and development in education provided a unique setting for faculty, professional research staff, and students to address significant educational problems and issues through its seven academic departments. It developed a reputation as one of a small number of research and postgraduate education institutions in the world with a broad mission and mandate and with the resources to implement the full range of that mission.

In 1996, after a long debate, OISE and the Faculty of Education of the University of Toronto (FEUT) finally merged, and formed the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, known as OISE/UT. Since that moment, the teaching mandate of OISE/UT includes both teacher training and graduate programs. By 2006, 10 years after the merge, its mission statement was formulated in the following terms:

OISE/UT is committed to the study of education and matters related to education in a societal context in which learning is a life-long activity. Its mission emphasizes equity and access and the improvement of the educational experiences of people of all age levels and backgrounds. It includes partnerships with others to address a wide array of problems, drawing upon the insights of academic disciplines and professional perspectives. OISE/UT is dedicated to national pre-eminence and international distinction in graduate studies, initial and continuing teacher education, research and field development in education, and to providing exemplary leadership within and outside the province of Ontario. (OISE/UT 2006).

Currently, OISE/UT offers hundreds of courses and several certificate and degree programs that enroll over 10,000 people annually. The Institute is organized in five departments and 18 research centres.


ONTARIO INSTITUTE FOR STUDIES IN EDUCATION AMENDMENT ACT. Legislative Assembly of Ontario, Thu 26 Jun 1986 / Jeu 26 jun 1986. 

OISE/UT Website. 

OISE/UT Initial Teacher Education Admissions Guide (2006). 

Prepared by Daniel Schugurensky, OISE/UT (2006).

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Last updated on February 12, 2006.