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The Development of Postsecondary Education Systems in Canada

The Development of Postsecondary Education Systems in Canada: A Comparison between British Columbia, Ontario, and Québec, 1980-2010

Donald Fisher
Kjell Rubenson
Theresa Shanahan
Claude Trottier
Copyright Date: 2014
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  • Book Info
    The Development of Postsecondary Education Systems in Canada
    Book Description:

    Significant public investment and increased access to higher education lead to economic development - governments across the political and ideological spectrum believe this and have designed and implemented policy based on this understanding. The Development of Postsecondary Education Systems in Canada examines how these policies affect the structure and performance of postsecondary education. This comprehensive study compares the evolution and outcomes of higher education policy in British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec over the past three decades. The authors begin with an understanding that in order to explain the role of postsecondary education in society, they must locate systemic change. Drawing on documentary analysis and interviews, the focus is on how policy priorities are reflected in "system" behaviours: performance, funding arrangements, design, and structural components. Current theories about the liberal-democratic state, academic capitalism, and marketization inform discussions of the changing role of higher education in a globalized knowledge society. The book presents policy and education as a multidimensional exchange between the postsecondary community, policy makers, and the behaviour and performance of educational systems and concludes that higher education is a key actor in the restructuring of the state. The Development of Postsecondary Education Systems in Canada shows how higher education policy has been driven by a changing political and economic imperative and examines the contradictions and unintended consequences of education policy. Contributors include Jean Bernatchez (Université du Québec à Rimouski), Robert Clift (PhD candidate, University of British Columbia), Donald Fisher (University of British Columbia), Glen A. Jones (Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto), Jacy Lee (McMaster University), Madeleine MacIvor (University of British Columbia), John Meredith (independent consultant), Kjell Rubenson (University of British Columbia), Theresa Shanahan (York University), and Claude Trottier (emeritus, Université Laval).

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-9042-7
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Figures and Tables
    (pp. vii-xii)
  4. Acronyms and Abbreviations
    (pp. xiii-xviii)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xix-xx)
  6. Preface
    (pp. xxi-2)
  7. 1 Introduction and Overview: PSE in Three Canadian Provinces
    (pp. 3-34)

    This book emerges from work that a Canadian team of researchers is conducting on the impact of educational policy on the performance of postsecondary education (pse) systems in Canada, the United States, and Mexico. This research was funded by the Ford Foundation through the Alliance for International Higher Education Policy Studies (aiheps). The purpose of the larger study is to illuminate the relationship between policy environments, the process of decision making (“rules of the game”), and performance of pse systems in selected jurisdictions in the United States, Mexico, and Canada. The first part of the study began in September 1999...

  8. 2 The Transformation of the PSE System in British Columbia
    (pp. 35-121)

    The story of pse policy in British Columbia provides a rich opportunity not only to chart the parallel unfolding of events within and outside government but also to examine questions of causation and judgment in pse policy. The period since the early 1980s has certainly been one of dramatic, perhaps even revolutionary, change. The pressure for access has led to the emergence of new institutional types and new lines of stratification, raising new questions about differentiation, mandate, and identity. A trend towards vocationalism in the university sector has coincided with “academic drift” in the community college sector, leading to convergences...

  9. 3 Contradictory Trends in PSE Policy in Ontario
    (pp. 122-199)

    This chapter presents a profile of Ontario’s pse policy during the period from 1985 to 2010. A review of major government policy initiatives during this period reveals that successive provincial administrations employed various strategies to enhance key postsecondary themes, including accessibility, quality and accountability, affordability, research and innovation, as well as labour market relevance. These efforts emerged within the changing political economy complete with economic booms and economic recessions. The result is a story of contradictory trends in Ontario pse: years of structural stability followed by rapid policy changes that altered government’s approach to regulation, increased spending followed by dramatic...

  10. 4 PSE Policy in Quebec: A Case Study
    (pp. 200-290)

    This chapter presents the case study on pse policy in Quebec. Drawing upon the analytical model that has emerged from the first stage of the aiheps Project (cf. chapter 1), our objectives are to reconstruct Quebec’s pse policy; place it within the environment in which it was developed; analyze the design, or structure, of the pse system and its rules of the game; and study the relationships between system design in relation to its context. The system was completely restructured in the 1960s. Since then, successive changes have been introduced at the margin but have not modified its structure fundamentally....

  11. 5 Trends across the Three Provinces: Similarities and Differences
    (pp. 291-333)

    As noted in the introduction, our work is situated within the tradition of policy sociology, which is concerned with theorizing the nature of policy and its production and with illuminating the policy discourse (Gale 1999, 2001; Taylor et al. 1997; Rizvi and Lingard 2010). Our approach necessarily draws attention to the importance of power, control, and conflict in the policy-making process. We emphasize political economy and take into account the structural context and the social forces impinging on the system.

    Again, as noted in the introduction, we decided to use a set of policy priorities as sensitizing concepts in order...

  12. Conclusion
    (pp. 334-352)

    We began this book with a series of questions that revolved around the relation between pse policy and its implementation across our three case study provinces from the early 1980s through to 2010. By documenting this relation in the pse systems of British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec, we laid the basis for a comparative analysis that would, in turn, allow us to clearly connect policy environments to outcomes. We set out to isolate those factors that enabled or constrained the attempts by state functionaries to achieve the envisaged policy outcomes. Our policy sociology orientation inevitably directed our gaze to the...

    (pp. 353-370)
  14. Notes
    (pp. 371-394)
  15. References
    (pp. 395-422)
  16. Index
    (pp. 423-446)