One of the planks of the Ontario Liberal Government’s “Reaching Higher” plan for Ontario’s postsecondary education — to cover roughly 2005-10 — was the formation of “a new, arm’s-length, Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario to take a lead role in supporting quality improvement in postsecondary education”.
I note that that Council has now published its Third Annual Review and Research Plan, available at its website. Much of it is breakdown of annual KPI survey results, etc., but I note that sections 5.3 (“A Case for System Change”) and 5.3.2 (“The Authors’ Recommendations”) might be seen to bear some striking resemblances to Premier Dalton McGuinty’s recent mumblings to the Globe and Mail editorial board about taking the research role and academic freedom of Ontario University professors down a notch.
More significant for this forum might be the advisory council’s recommendations…
- to increase college students’ transferability to university
- to magnify the number of degree options at specific colleges (cue the feeding frenzy among colleges for potential funding), including (wait for it…) “greater [potential] involvement in the provision of career focused bachelor’s programs that rest on a solid liberal arts foundation”, and
- to form a) institutions that focus exclusively on baccalaureate education, with no research component, and b) a (presumably-online) “Open University”
Whatever your thoughts, these proposals will probably the be terms of the debate for the next five years, and it’s therefore worth taking them seriously and getting involved in the discussion as soon as possible.
After all, a realist would say that these are the people to whom McGuinty is listening ; a cynic would say that these are the people who are listening to McGuinty.