Ontario Establishes New Independent Universities in Northern Ontario

Ontario Establishes New Independent Universities in Northern Ontario

Northern Ontario School of Medicine University and Université de Hearst to become standalone, degree-granting institutions

March 04, 2022

Colleges and Universities

TORONTO — The Ontario government is establishing the Northern Ontario School of Medicine University (NOSM University) and Université de Hearst (Hearst) as new, independent universities with degree-granting authority, effective April 1, 2022. This important milestone acknowledges the critical role these institutions play in providing students with access to medical training and French-language studies in Northern Ontario.

“The Ontario government is committed to supporting high-quality postsecondary education in northern Ontario,” said Jill Dunlop, Minister of Colleges and Universities. “We recognize that our northern institutions are essential to ensuring we have a skilled workforce in the North, and by establishing NOSM University and Hearst as independent, publicly assisted universities, we will enable them to grow in ways that best serve their students and local communities.”

As standalone, degree-granting institutions, NOSM University and Hearst now have independent governance and administration, providing flexibility for them to expand and explore offering more programs in communities across northern Ontario. By providing more options for students, these proven institutions can support greater access to postsecondary education in the North, specifically medical training at NOSM University and French-language education at Hearst.

“This is a profound and historic moment for the NOSM community, and its impact will be felt across northern Ontario and beyond,” said Dr. Sarita Verma, President, Vice Chancellor and Dean of NOSM University. “We are grateful to Minister Dunlop and the Ford government for this incredible commitment to health education in the North and our renewed focus on health equity across our vast region.”

“All of us at the Université de Hearst are overjoyed by today’s announcement,” said Luc Bussières, President of Université de Hearst. “Becoming fully independent, an important aspiration for our establishment, is a significant milestone. We will pursue the work we started 70 years ago with the entire Francophonie. We will greatly benefit from this new support from the government of Ontario.”

Supporting NOSM University and Hearst with this important step demonstrates the government’s commitment to postsecondary education in the North, the Francophone community and ensuring northern Ontario has a skilled workforce that can contribute to the economic growth of the province.

Quick Facts

  • On June 3, 2021, Bill 276, the Supporting Recovery and Competitiveness Act, 2021, received Royal Assent. The bill contained schedules for the Northern Ontario School of Medicine University Act, 2021 and Université de Hearst Act, 2021 to continue both postsecondary institutions as standalone universities. Both Acts will come into force on April 1, 2022. Both institutions will be granted the authority to continue offering their existing degree programs and will be able to offer additional degrees via the ministerial consent process or through future updates to the regulations.
  • Previously, NOSM was affiliated with Laurentian University and Lakehead University. Hearst was an affiliate of Laurentian University.
  • NOSM has contributed to the establishment of more than 700 medical professionals in the North since it was created in 2005.
  • NOSM students complete more than 40 per cent of their training in Indigenous, small rural and larger urban northern Ontario communities.
  • Hearst is one of only two Ontario universities that offer full-time degree programs and services exclusively in French and is the only university offering French-language programs in smaller northern Ontario communities.
  • Hearst is now the second university in Ontario, since Université de l’Ontario français (UOF) opened its doors in September 2021, that is governed by and for Francophones.
  • Since 2008-09, NOSM’s student enrolment has increased by 58 per cent and Hearst’s full-time student enrolment has nearly doubled.


“Providing students in Ontario with additional choices to pursue a career in medicine is vital as we continue to strengthen the province’s health care workforce. This milestone will offer students education closer to home, enabling them to better serve and provide health care that best meets the needs of the communities in northern Ontario.”

– Christine Elliott
Deputy Premier and Minister of Health

“With Université de Hearst, Ontario now has two French-language universities, by and for Francophones, ensuring greater access to quality postsecondary education in French, and the vitality of our Francophone communities. Both universities will play a leading role in the creation and dissemination of French-language knowledge, as well as in the training of the Francophone and bilingual professionals our province needs.”

– Caroline Mulroney
Minister of Francophone Affairs

“Giving historic institutions like the Université de Hearst and the Northern Ontario School of Medicine greater autonomy will only improve student outcomes across the North. Hearst and NOSM will now be able to offer more education options for students, expanding access to high quality postsecondary education across the region.”

– Greg Rickford
Minister of Northern Development and Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry and Minister of Indigenous Affairs

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