Blog Posts


Liberal arts lead to good employment outcomes…just don’t tell the policymakers

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Last week, the AAC&U released the report How Liberal Arts and Science Majors Fare in Employment (for coverage, check out Inside Higher Ed, the Chronicle, or the AACU release). Looking at both employment and earnings outcomes, the report is notable for two things: first, it actually looks at long-term data, not just a five- or […]

Into the program prioritization debate

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Last week, we published an article by Leo Groarke and Beverley Hamilton on program prioritization. For the uninitiated, program prioritization is a process – now much in vogue at Ontario’s universities – for ranking academic and non-academic programs for the purposes of directing resources. Some have called it a “rank n’ yank” process, where programs […]

We Teach Ontario launches student video contest

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We Teach Ontario, OCUFA’s campaign highlighting the important connection between teaching and research, has launched a student video contest. The contest offers former and current Ontario university students the chance to win an iPhone, an iPad mini, or a trip to Toronto to attend the OCUFA “Future U” conference. To enter, students need to make […]

Editorial Matters: Skin in the game

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We only do an issue of Academic Matters if we think the topic is important, timely, or relevant to the current state-of-play for higher education. But I have to admit that this graduate student issue has a special importance for me. That’s the effect of having a bit more skin in the game, I suppose. […]

Massively Open Online Embarassment

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Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs) may be the way of the future, but they show every sign of disrupting my intricate bargain with humiliation. For ten years, I’ve managed to contain evidence of my incompetence to the small number of students who had the misfortune of wandering into my lecture hall. But online lectures on […]

Self-censoring away from the public sphere

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In recent weeks, Academic Matters has devoted some of its attention to the importance of academics’ participation in public debate. Two panels at the Worldviews Conference on Global Trends in Media and Higher Education today spoke to some reasons  why this kind of public engagement can be difficult for academics. The increasing precariousness of academic […]

Where have all the academics gone?

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Writing in today’s Ottawa Citizen, Lawrence Martin observes that Canada’s academic are “missing in action”. That is, almost totally silent on the critical issues facing the country- everything from the “declining state of our parliamentary democracy” to the tepid response to the Federal Government’s muzzling of federal scientists and starvation of key research institutions (for […]

Reflections on the CSSHE Annual Conference: Good, but more policy, please?

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This past week, Academic Matters was fortunate to attend the annual Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences. As a magazine dedicated to higher education issues, we were particularly interested to attend the sessions of the Canadian Society for the Study of Higher Education (CSSHE), held between June 2nd and June 6th. The sessions were […]

Harper and the “dumbing down” of Canadian society

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It’s almost like we planned it! But even though we didn’t, the micro-lecture roundtable discussion sponsored jointly by the Canadian Political Science Association (CPSA) and the Canadian Historical Association (CHA) provided a perfect venue for scholars in a range of fields to address some of the themes that were raised in the most recent issue […]

Conference Board of Canada announces skills and post-secondary education project

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There seems to be a recurring theme in discussions about post-secondary education policy – we talk a lot about big ideas (innovation, productivity, quality, the list goes on) but have a hard time getting consensus on what we actually mean by these terms. When it comes to the conversation about skills training and post-secondary education, […]

100 cups of coffee every minute…

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It’s an eye-catching stat, but understandable when you consider it refers to the rate of caffeine consumption at the 2013 Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences.   Put 7,100 academics in one place, and you’re bound to run through an impressive amount of coffee. But the big stats don’t stop there – 1,800 sessions, […]

Sometimes it feels like we’re standing on a battlefied

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Military metaphors are tired, no question. Orwell cautions that we should never use clichés that we are accustomed to seeing in print, as they will “construct your sentences for you—even think your thoughts for you.” But with all respect to George— one of the clearest, if not greatest, prose writers of the 20th century— sometimes […]

More on bad Ontario/California comparisons

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Ken Snowdon has released a paper that echoes our criticisms about Ian Clark’s recent article advocating “California Style”differentiation in Ontario. OCUFA, our publisher, has the complete document and a short summary. Snowdon’s analysis reveals several facts that should give policy-makers pause before they rush to emulate California: Clark’s analysis is a bad case of “apples-to-oranges” […]