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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How Rob Ford Can Fix Social Housing

I have an opinion piece in today’s Toronto Star regarding Toronto’s Mayor, Rob Ford, and the Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC). Mr. Ford would like to see a considerable number of units from TCHC’s existing stock sold off.  For background on the issue, please my blog post of April 13, which can be found here. In today’s piece, I argue that it is more […]

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Fix PSE System Before Building Addition!

According to an article in yesterday’s Toronto Star, the Ontario government will create room for 60,000 new students in its colleges and universities by 2015-2016, 10% of which will be for graduate students. (I assume this means that, by 2015-2016, there will be 60,000 more students enroled in Ontario’s post-secondary insitutions than is currently the case, and that 10% of these new spaces […]

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The Town Without Poverty

A guest post from Richard Pereira, a recent winner of the PEF Essay Contest… – Canadian Economics Association – The Town Without Poverty There were hundreds of speakers at this year’s CEA conference in Ottawa.  About a dozen of these were designated “Special Lectures/Conférences spéciales” and among them were Jack Mintz on “The GST After Twenty Years”, Don Drummond on […]

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Reduce Student Debt to Reduce Household Debt

At this year’s Annual Conference of the Canadian Economics Association, Armine Yalnizyan gave a presentation entitled “Surviving the Recovery:  The Distribution of Canadian Household Debt.” The panel was co-sponsored by the Canadian Association for Business Economics and the Progressive Economics Forum. As Armine made clear in her presentation, household debt in Canada has steadily risen over the past two decades.  In 1990, […]

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Homelessness in Yellowknife

I’m in Yellowknife all week attending events relating to the launch of a policy report on homelessness.  The report is one of several articles coming out of a multi-year research project looking at affordable housing and homelessness in the Northwest Territories.  The project is being supervised by Dr. Frances Abele (Carleton University) and our community partner is Arlene Haché (recent recipient […]

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Access to Post-Secondary Education

I recently had the chance to read a 2008 book entitled Who Goes?  Who Stays?  What Matters?  Accessing and Persisting in Post-Secondary Education in Canada.  Edited by Ross Finnie, Richard Mueller, Arthur Sweetman and Alex Usher, the anthology features 14 chapters written by a total of 21 authors.     I found Chapter 4 (co-authored by Finnie and Mueller) and Chapter […]

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Toronto Community Housing Corporation

I have an opinion piece in today’s Toronto Star regarding the recent controversy surrounding the Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC).  In the way of background: -TCHC is Canada’s largest provider of social housing, and Toronto’s largest landlord. -There have been two recent reports by the City of Toronto’s auditor–one looks at staff expenses at TCHC, and another looks at TCHC’s […]

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NDP’s “Balanced Budget” Platform

Jack Layton unveiled the NDP’s policy platform today.  Among other things, it promises to eliminate the deficit (i.e. balance the federal budget) within four years.  I’m not sure it should. Several years back, I had the opportunity to take a directed reading course from John Smithin.  In addition to being a long-time member of the Progressive Economics Forum, John is […]

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Reforming Ontario’s Universities

I have just finished reading a 2009 book entitled Academic Transformation:  The Forces Reshaping Higher Education in Ontario.  The book, written by Ian Clark, Greg Moran, Michael Skolnik and David Trick, has received a fair bit of attention among post-secondary (PSE) wonks.  While I find it informative, I am uncomfortable with the book’s central feature:  a proposal to reform Ontario’s PSE sector with the […]

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Danny Williams’ PSE Legacy

Keith Dunne and I have an opinion piece out on what we consider to be one of the best-kept secrets in Canadian social policy:  Danny Williams’ post-secondary education (PSE) legacy.  Among other things, the piece points out that: -Since 2003, the Newfoundland and Labrador government has increased funding for PSE by 82 percent. -Average tuition fees for domestic students in […]

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Professors’ Salaries

Yesterday, Alex Usher blogged at the Globe and Mail’s web site about the salaries of Canadian university professors. He argues that professors in Canada are now paid better than professors in the United States. He also suggests that, in Canada, “professors are getting world-class pay without producing world-class results.” While I’ve never argued that tenured Canadian university professors are underpaid […]

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When CEOs Run Universities

Yesterday’s Globe and Mail features an article on the resignation of Paul Bates as Dean of McMaster’s business school.  I believe the article is instructive in terms of understanding what can happen when private-sector actors are put in senior administrative roles at Canadian univerities According to the article, McMaster hired Mr. Bates in 2004.  Mr. Bates had no university degree, yet […]

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Homelessness in Canada’s North

I’m the main researcher on a three-year SSHRC-funded research project looking at homelessness and affordable housing in the Northwest Territories (NWT).  Frances Abele (Carleton University) is Principal Investigator on the project, and Arlene Haché (Yellowknife Women’s Society) is Co-Investigator.  The project falls under the larger umbrella of the Social Economy Research Network of Northern Canada. Though several larger papers will come out […]

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Canadian Housing Observer 2010

In late-October, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation released the Canadian Housing Observer 2010.  I’ve finally given it a thorough read and am struck by some of the statistics. The MLS average price of a home in Canada has almost doubled in the past decade.  In 2000, the figure was just under $164,000.  By 2009, it was just over $320,000.  Perhaps not surprisingly, during this same period, residential […]

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Blaming the Victims: Quebec Students

Last month, I blogged about a major new report on the living conditions of Quebec undergraduate students.  The report’s findings include the fact that 50% of full-time undergraduate students in Quebec report living on less $12,200 per year. On the heels of that report’s release comes the news that the Conference of Rectors and Principals of Quebec Universities (CREPUQ), which lobbies on behalf […]

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McGuinty’s Post-Secondary Education Strategy

Many blog readers will remember that when Dalton McGuinty became premier of Ontario in 2003 he vowed to be the “education premier.” Yet, university students in Ontario–at both the undergraduate and graduate level–now pay the highest tuition fees in Canada.  Ontario is also in last place nationally in terms of per-student funding for post-secondary education, and has the lowest professor-to-student […]

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Debunking the Myth of the Lazy Student

Results of a major survey of post-secondary students were released on Thursday.  The 149-page report, entitled Sources et Modes de Financement des Etudiants the Premier Cycle 2009, was written by the Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec (FEUQ).  It was done in collaboration with Léger Marketing, who suveyed almost 13,000 undergraduate students in Quebec, spanning 14 different post-secondary institutions in the province.  According […]

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Confusion Over Monetary Policy

It’s always been my understanding that left-of-centre economists, on the whole, like it when real interest rates are low (but not negative).  Among other things, this encourages more companies to borrow (and hire more workers), reduces unemployment, reduces debt-servicing costs for government, and increases the power of labour. In July of this year, I blogged over my concern that “important voices among Canada’s […]

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Silencing Student Dissent

Across Canada, university student associations–at both the undergraduate and graduate level–provide democratic representation to their members.  When students register for a term, memberhip fees are automatically collected by the university’s business office, much like an employer automatically collects union dues in a unionized workplace.  The university’s business office temporarily holds student membership fees “in trust,” and then remits them to […]

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Why Is The French Labour Movement So Powerful?

From time to time, I check out the The Real News Network.  I’ve just finished watching a video clip they’ve featured on labour protests in France over the government’s attempt to raise the “pension age” from 60 to 62.  The coverage includes a brief look at the impact of the blockades of French oil refineries. I’m struck by how powerful the French […]

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University Recruitment of International Students

Last month, I blogged about “pathway colleges,” which are private companies that have been entering into P3 arrangements with Canadian universities in recent years.  The private company helps recruit international students and then gives the students pre-university training.  If all goes according to plan, the students in question eventually become full-fledged students at the university in question.   There’s been increased attention to […]

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The “Big Five” Proposal for Canadian Universities

I have an opinion piece out on the so-called “Big Five” proposal for Canadian universities.  The plan, first articulated in MacLean’s magazine just over a year ago, would entail two main things: 1) more research money concentrated at five major Canadian universities; and 2) lower undergraduate-to-graduate student ratios for those same five universities.  The universities in question are Toronto, McGill, UBC, Alberta and […]

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Should Students Pay One Flat Fee for a Degree?

Yesterday afternoon, Alex Usher–who regularly blogs for the Globe and Mail on post-secondary education–blogged about an innovative concept proposed by the (now ousted) Liberal Party in New Brunswick’s recent provincial election campaign.  The proposal is for universities to charge students one flat fee for the cost of a degree.  Usher argues in favour of this move on the basis that it would […]

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What Would Bubbles Do?

Many blog readers are no doubt aware that, late last month, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives released a paper by David Macdonald entitled “Canada’s Housing Bubble:  An Accident Waiting to Happen.” As the title suggests, Macdonald argues: Canada is experiencing, for the first time in the last 30 years, a synchronized housing bubble across the six largest residential real […]

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