Globe and Mail on higher education in Canada
The Globe and Mail has just launched an in-depth feature on higher education in Canada, an installment of their Our Time to Lead series. For a couple of weeks, you can expect to see increased coverage of the issues facing our post-secondary education system in print but especially online.
The editors deserve credit for seeking to hear from some unusual suspects and enlisting advisory members for the panel from a variety of backgrounds, including myself and Karen Foster along with academics and education policy folks. That said, the advisory panel is far from perfect: it is heavily male-dominated (close to 2/3 men), not reflective of Canada’s ethnic composition (almost entirely white) and by no means inclusive of all points of view in this big discussion, as is already pointed out by the thoughtful folks at the Virtual Square for the Faculty of Arts at the University of Alberta blog.
So far, I’m a little disappointed to see that a lot of the discussion focuses on the personal payoffs of education for each individual and how to better incorporate technology in learning. This misses the big picture. In my view, the shifts we’re seeing in education today — from soaring tuition and student debt, to increased reliance on sessionals, to industry-driven research agendas raising questions about academic freedom and conflicts of interest — are largely driven by colleges and universities scrambling to find new sources of funding to make up for the steady withdrawal of government funding for higher education over the last generation. For more detail, see this blog post.
The Globe series is meant as a forum for a broad-based discussion on some of the key issues in education. It seems to me that this kind of conversation is much-needed and long overdue in Canada. While I’m not sure that the Globe’s interactive features, live chats and comments sections provide the best venue for it, they’re certainly a good start. The feature is sparking some debate and thoughtful commentary on other blogs (such as this one) and I hope to see a lot more of this happening!