Ontario’s Poverty Reduction Strategy

December marked the three-year anniversary of Ontario’s Poverty Reduction Strategy. While I believe there is much to celebrate, much remains to be done. The Strategy surprised a lot of observers, especially in light of the fact that it was announced in December 2008, just as Ontario was entering a recession.  Its focus was almost exclusively child poverty, and at full […]

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Tips on Recruiting International Students

It’s no secret that a major priority of Canadian universities is to recruit substantial numbers of international students, who in turn pay very high tuition fees once they arrive in Canada. Recent evidence suggests that insofar as Canadian universities want to continue doing so, they should work with senior levels of government to reduce the cost of both housing and public transit for students. […]

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Impact of Increased Health Privatization on PSE

An article in yesterday’s Village Voice looks at the rising costs of post-secondary education (PSE) in the United States. It points to research suggesting that the “biggest single factor” contributing to the rising cost of PSE for both private and public institutions is the cost of employee health benefits. I would infer from the above that, insofar as Canada moves towards increased privatization […]

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Housing in the Northwest Territories

Last week, I was in Yellowknife, where I released results of new research on affordable housing in the Northwest Territories (NWT). The research project was sponsored by the Social Economy Research Network of Northern Canada, and was a collaboration with the Centre for Northern Families. Research findings include the following: -Housing indicators suggest that the state of housing in the NWT […]

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Federal Post-Secondary Education Act

Last month, the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) released a document entitled Public Education for the Public Good:  A National Vision for Canada’s Post-Secondary Education System. I found the document to be quite informative, filled with a lot of useful statistics.  For example: -Enrolment is rising in colleges and universities across Canada. Since the late 1990s, full-time enrolment has increased by 25%. Enrolment in […]

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The Privatization of Social Housing

Last weekend, I spoke on a panel at the Annual Conference of the Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association.  The panel was inspired in large part by the recent debate in Toronto over Mayor Rob Ford’s attempt to sell social housing units to private buyers.  The panel, entitled “To Privatize or Not to Privatize? That is the question,” included myself, Vince Brescia […]

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Access Copyright

I have an opinion piece out on Access Copyright, English Canada’s longtime copyright middleman. I argue that Access Copyright is a bit like the Blockbuster Video of Canadian university libraries—once indispensable, and now almost obsolete (largely due the Internet). Within a year from now, it’s possible that no Canadian university will still have day-to-day dealings with the organization. The piece provides […]

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Concordia Decides That Less Is More

In August, I blogged about controversy surrounding Concordia University’s Board of Governors. A report co-authored by Bernard J. Shapiro (Canada’s first Ethics Commissioner) had concluded that an unofficial, inner circle of Board members had been micromanaging some of the university’s day-to-day operations, and undermining the President. This had apparently prompted the resignation of the previous two Presidents before the midway points of their respective terms in office. It […]

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Student Debt Rising Amongst New Physicians

Newly-released data indicate that student debt is rising amongst new physicians in Canada. In 2010, 23 percent of medical residents reported having more than $120,000 in education-related debt upon completion of their residency training (as compared with just 17 percent in 2007). (Note: across Canada, average tuition fees for medical students amount to just over $10,000 a year.) This appears to have important implications for Canada’s health […]

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William Watson on PSE

On Wednesday, William Watson wrote a comment piece in the Financial Post in which he was critical of Armine Yalnizyan’s recent essay on inequality. In his piece, Mr. Watson alleges that Armine “is guilty of fantastical reminiscence,” particularly with respect to her take on post-secondary education (PSE). Among other things, Mr. Watson points to the fact that PSE enrolment has […]

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The Ontario NDP Platform

Pollsters tell us that Ontario’s New Democrats may double their seat total in next month’s provincial election. It’s also entirely conceivable that they could be part of a coalition government at Queen’s Park. But what’s actually in the party’s election platform? One central feature of the NDP’s proposals is to implement a tax credit for companies that hire new workers. The tax credits would be valued at […]

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PSE in Newfoundland and Labrador

Last March, Keith Dunne and I wrote an opinion piece on Danny Williams’ post-secondary education (PSE) legacy in Newfoundland and Labrador. Among other things, we pointed out that average undergraduate tuition fees (for domestic students) in Newfoundland and Labrador are $2,624/yr., compared with $5,138 for Canada as a whole and $6,307 in Ontario. With a provincial election slated to take place in Newfoundland and Labrador on […]

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McGuinty Proposes Undergraduate Tuition Grant

An Ontario election is slated for October 6, and the reigning Liberal Party will attempt to pull off a third consecutive majority government. In that vein, the Liberals have recently made a slew of campaign promises in the post-secondary education (PSE) sector. Notably, they’ve committed to reducing undergraduate tuition for “middle-class Ontario families” by 30 percent, amounting to “$1600 per student in […]

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“Grade-Boosting” Stimulant Use on Campus

A recent editorial in the Canadian Medical Association Journal looks at the use of “grade-boosting” stimulants (such as Ritalin) by Canadian post-secondary students. According to the editorial: “Universities and colleges are ground zero for ‘grade-boosting’ stimulant abuse.” The thrust of the editorial’s argument is that universities and colleges need to work proactively to reduce the misuse of such substances, including by […]

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Ontario Student Debt

Last week, the CCPA released a paper by David Macdonald and Erika Shaker entitled Under Pressure: The Impact of Rising Tuition Fees on Ontario Families. The paper does a good job of explaining which households have been most impacted by rising tuition fees in Ontario. Points made in the paper include the following: -In light of rising levels of household debt, Canadian […]

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Funding for Federal Granting Councils

The Canadian Association of University Teachers represents 66,000 university and college teachers, academic librarians, researchers and staff at more than 120 universities and colleges in Canada. Their 2012 brief to the Federal Finance Committee contains some useful numbers.  I was particularly interested to see their data showing decreased funding to Canada’s federal granting councils. Using constant dollars, the brief spells out that, over the past five years, the […]

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Quebec Tuition Fees

In light of plans by the Charest government to increase tuition fees in Quebec by 75 percent over the next five years, Eric Martin and Simon Tremblay-Pepin have written a recent article on Quebec tuition fees. The article points out the following: -Though tuition fees in Quebec have been lower than in most other parts of Canada, this has come with […]

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Copyright on Campus

A recent article by George Monbiot in The Guardian takes a critical look at academic publishers, apparently with a focus on the United Kingdom. The article makes the following points: -Journals now eat up 65 percent of university library budgets. -“[A]cademic publishers get their articles, their peer reviewing (vetting by other researchers) and even much of their editing for free.”  -The research published by academic publishers is largely […]

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Is There a Student Debt Bubble?

A recent article in The Atlantic looks at student debt in the United States and suggests there may be a student debt bubble. Written by the authors of the recent book, Higher Education?, the article points out that “college loans are nearing the $1 trillion mark, more than what all households owe on their credit cards.” The article also features the following provocative excerpt: […]

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Tuition Has Increased 41% Since 1998

A recent cbc.ca article reports on plans by Quebec student groups to protest  planned tuition hikes by the Charest government. Over a five-year period, Quebec’s Liberal government plans to increase tuition by roughly 75 percent. The article notes that tuition levels in Quebec are currently among the lowest in Canada. But as I’ve blogged about here, living conditions for many […]

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The Double Whammy of Defunding Universities

As I’ve blogged about here, federal funding for post-secondary education (PSE) in Canada is decreasing.  Between 1985-1986 and 2007-2008, annual federal cash transfers to Ontario for PSE (in constant 2007 dollars) decreased from roughly $1.4 billion to just under $1 billion. (Yet, during that same period, PSE enrolment in Ontario increased by more than 60 percent). And as I’ve written about here, during Dalton McGuinty’s time as […]

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The Racialised Impact of Tuition Fees

Mainstream policy wonks often claim that tuition fees and rising levels of student debt in Canada are relatively inconsequential. They argue that though the costs of higher education for students (and sometimes their families) are increasing, so is post-secondary enrollment, meaning that raising the cost of post-secondary education clearly doesn’t block access. While enrollment is indeed rising, the increases in costs […]

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2011 Academic Ranking of World Universities

The 2011 Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) was released on Monday. Because it’s compiled by Shanghai Jiaotong University, it’s commonly known as “the Shanghai ranking.”  As I recently blogged about here,  the methodologies used in global university rankings typically advantage English-language universities. This year’s Shanghai ranking confirms this: 20 of the Top 25 universities in the ARWU are located in the United States, and four […]

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The Hidden Impact of Rising PSE Costs for Students

Over the past several decades in Canada, tuition rates and student debt levels have both increased substantially. Yet, I am not aware of much research seeking to assess either how exactly this impacts students, or how precisely students are making ends meet. A recent article in the Huffington Post–though not focused on Canada–sheds some light on this phenonenon. The article looks […]

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Concordia’s “Culture of Contempt”

In June of this year, a report was released on governance at Concordia University. Entitled Strengthening Governance at Concordia: A Collective Challenge, the report can be accessed here: www.concordia.ca/vpirsg/documents/EGRC-REPORT.pdf. The 39-page report was written by the External Governance Review Committee, a three-person committee chaired by none other than Bernard J. Shapiro (Canada’s first Ethics Commissioner). The report paints a picture of a […]

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Tuition Increases by Stealth

On Tuesday night, Peterborough City Council approved a plan for a for-profit corporation to own and operate a new student residence at Trent University.  I’m concerned that this may signal a new trend at Canadian universities; about a year ago, I blogged about a similar plan at the University of Toronto. I am not opposed to private sector actors being […]

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Is Social Assistance a “Poverty Pariah?”

An article in the current edition of NOW Magazine looks at social assistance in Ontario. The article is aptly entitled “Poverty Pariah,” in light of how apparently unpopular Ontario’s welfare system has become over the past 20 years. As can be seen at the National Council of Welfare’s Interactive Welfare Incomes Map, a single adult on welfare in Ontario receives […]

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Global University Rankings

The European University Association (EUA) recently released a report they’d commissioned entitled Global University Rankings and Their Impact. The report was written by Andrejs Rauhvargers. According to the EAU, one of their major motivations in commissioning the report was that their member universities are “often under pressure to appear in the rankings, or to improve their position in one way or another.” Some […]

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How To Fund Innovation

Just over a year ago, I wrote an opinion piece about the federal government’s “innovation strategy” and its impact on the post-secondary education sector. In the piece, I argue that the strategy has resulted in significant funding increases for university R&D. But I also argue in the piece that the strategy creates winners and losers–i.e. a “world class” doctoral student might get a $50,000/yr. scholarship, […]

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