Full Participation
HESA | Higher Education Strategy Associates
by Alex Usher
16h ago
The Memorial University of Newfoundland Faculty Association (MUNFA) is on strike.  The strike seems not primarily about salaries (the two sides are not that far apart, 16% over 4 years vs 12% over 4 years plus a signing bonus) and only a bit about post-employment benefits (management wants to funnel new staff into a somewhat less generous pension plan).  Rather, if you follow many of the strikers online, you’ll see that the big rallying call is for “collegial governance”. Now, what people on picket lines say they are fighting for and what is being negotiated for at the bargaining tab ..read more
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Another Suspect ANSUT Report
HESA | Higher Education Strategy Associates
by Alex Usher
2d ago
The Association of Nova Scotia University Teachers (ANSUT) recently released a report entitled A Culture of Entitlement, which purports to analyze the increase of executive salaries versus those of academic staff.  It’s being used as a rallying cry among several faculty unions which are either already (Cape Breton) or about to go (Saint Mary’s) on strike and is very much worth a read even if – as I show below – there are some major problems with the analysis. Readers with very long-term memories may recall that ANSUT wrote a similar report with the same name about ten years ago, one which ..read more
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That Bill Morneau Book
HESA | Higher Education Strategy Associates
by Alex Usher
3d ago
I read Where to From Here: A Path To Canadian Prosperity, by former Liberal Finance Minister Bill Morneau, this weekend.  I cannot in good conscience recommend anyone else read it – it is bland, provides almost no new insight into the workings of the Trudeau government, and the “aw shucks can’t we all be more decent and moderate?” shtick gets old fast. But it has an important lesson for the post-secondary education sector.  And that is: the sector counts for nothing in Ottawa right now. In brief: one of the main themes of this book is that within the governing party th ..read more
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Budgets, Control, Incentives, Rankings
HESA | Higher Education Strategy Associates
by Alex Usher
6d ago
Hi everyone.  Just a quick one today, an incomplete follow-up to Tuesday’s blog on rankings. One of the points I made on Tuesday was that several universities – and specifically, nearly all of the Australian ones apart from ANU – have made enormous strides in the rankings over the past 20 years, and this had been done largely in the absence of any funding boost.  A few of you were quick to point out that in fact there has been a funding boost, just not from public sources: instead, it had come in the form of international student fee dollars.  Which, OK, fair enough, but it does ..read more
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Three Takes on the Latest Ontario Universities Applications Data
HESA | Higher Education Strategy Associates
by Alex Usher
1w ago
The Ontario High School Application numbers dropped last week, and I thought it would be worth a quick tour of the data.  Two things first: First: I know folks from outside Ontario get cheesed off about the way I keep banging on about Ontario numbers, but here’s the thing: the rest of y’all don’t publish your data.  I cannot write about hidden data: sorry. Second: speaking of hidden data, the Ontario Universities Application Centre, for extremely flimsy reasons, has stopped publishing data on applications by field of study.  The rationale is basically a combination of “the data ..read more
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What 20 Years of Rankings Tells Us About Institutional Performance
HESA | Higher Education Strategy Associates
by Alex Usher
1w ago
It occurred to me the other day that the oldest set of international rankings – that is the Academic Rankings of World-class Universities (ARWU), also known as the Shanghai Rankings – have now gone through 20 iterations.  I’m not one who believes that year-to-year changes in rankings mean much (too much noise, not enough signal), but twenty years of data?  As an old colleague of mine once said, if a research result is strong enough, even a weak methodology will pick it up.  So, let’s go see where the strong signals are in global rankings. A few words about the ARWU rankings.&nbs ..read more
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Indigenous Identity
HESA | Higher Education Strategy Associates
by Alex Usher
1w ago
The issue of identity – specifically, the identity of scholars claiming to be Indigenous – is one of increasing importance in Canadian universities.  The recent resignations of Mary-Ellen Turpel-Lafond and Carrie Bourassa from UBC and the University of Saskatchewan, respectively, have had an enormous impact on those campuses.  Every campus needs to pay very careful attention to what as gone on at these institutions and adjust their policies accordingly. With respect to the case of Mary-Ellen Turpel-Lafond, a legal scholar who first rose to prominence over 30 years ago through her wor ..read more
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Emergency Benefit Puzzles
HESA | Higher Education Strategy Associates
by Alex Usher
1w ago
Last week, Statistics Canada published a fascinating little report on how much assistance Canadian students received from the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) during COVID.  The results are interesting but lack a bit of context, which I thought I would provide. It’s been nearly three years since CERB and CESB were a thing, so here’s a refresher:  CERB was announced on March 25 just a few days after much of the economy came to a screeching halt after the first stay-at-home orders and ended about six months later.  It was ava ..read more
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New Data on Completion Rates
HESA | Higher Education Strategy Associates
by Alex Usher
1w ago
For the last few years, Statscan has been publishing cohort completion data using the Post-Secondary Student Information System (PSIS).  A new round of data dropped last week, and there were several interesting nuggets for anyone who cared to dive in a little bit behind the headline numbers.  Let’s dive in, shall we? Let’s begin with university undergraduate degrees.  Figure 1 shows the 6-year completion rate for undergraduate degrees in Canada (note, completion here refers to completion of the degree-level in which the student is first enrolled, so a student who starts in a uni ..read more
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Consulting
HESA | Higher Education Strategy Associates
by Alex Usher
2w ago
The issue of how governments use consultants is now centre-stage, thanks to Pierre Poilievre and the National Post deciding to go full Maude Barlow on the issue of federal government contracts with McKinsey & Company.  Chatter on twitter suggests that left and right are able to come together around two key issues: first, that having consultants do work means that government is somehow no longer accountable to the public  and second, plaintively asking “why do we need consultants, when public servants should be able to do that on their own?” Regular readers will know I don’t ..read more
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