Featured Articles


University funding in Ontario and the implications of the new performance-based funding model, a discussion

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This past spring, faculty from across Ontario gathered in Toronto for the OCUFA Policy Exchange. The conference was organized to help set the groundwork for OCUFA’s policy platform in the lead-up to the 2018 Ontario provincial election. As part of the conference, Glenn Craney, the Assistant Deputy Minister overseeing the Postsecondary Education Division of Ontario’s […]

Unintended consequences: The use of metrics in higher education

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Metrics are used throughout Ontario’s postsecondary education system—for determining university funding, judging institutional performance, and gauging student perceptions. But metrics are not always the best tool for evaluation, and often have unintended consequences. Measured scepticism Statistical measures, or “metrics” as we are now expected to call them, have become as extensive in higher education as […]

Is there a metric 
to evaluate tenure?

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How much can data meaningfully inform decisions about tenure? If data only tell part of the story, perhaps faculty should be evaluated so that their different lived experiences are also taken into consideration. Tenure is one of the foundational concepts upon which Canada’s modern university system has been built. It is not without its issues, […]

The abuses and perverse effects of quantitative evaluation in the academy

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The world of academic research is scored according to so-called “objective” measures, with an emphasis on publications and citations. But the very foundations of this approach are flawed. Is it time to abandon these simplistic ranking schemes? Since the neoliberal ideology of the “new public management” and its introduction of rankings in academia began in […]

Dérives et effets pervers de l’évaluation quantitative de la recherche

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Les professeurs et les chercheurs universitaires sont de plus en plus évalués à l’aide de mesures dites « objectives », qui mettent l’accent sur les publications et les citations. Mais le fondement même de cette approche est problématique. Le temps est-il venu d’abandonner ces méthodes de notation simplistes? Avec l’arrivée en milieu universitaire de l’idéologie […]

Collecting data from students with students

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Gathering data on university students can provide important information about how they interact with the postsecondary education system, but it is also important to consult students to determine what data are collected and how. A few years ago, I was part of an admissions committee that developed a short, voluntary survey for one of our […]

Waking up to the reality of Canadian higher education

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Higher-education systems in Canada and the United Kingdom share much in common, but there are important differences that faculty on both sides of the Atlantic should appreciate. The UK experience can wake Canadian academics up to the urgency of resisting university corporatization and to the opportunities for resistance that remain. Wake up! That is the […]

Understanding the United Kingdom’s Teaching Excellence Framework and its implications

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The UK’s new metrics-based teaching evaluation framework is methodologically and politically flawed. What will this mean for the country’s universities and faculty? In 2017, a new higher-education assessment system—known as the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) —was launched in the United Kingdom. Based heavily on metrics, the TEF seeks to “recognize and reward excellence in teaching […]

Editorial Matters: Alluring figures

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There is an appealing simplicity in numbers. A number’s value is never ambiguous, even if its meaning can be. Numbers are specific and easily compared to one another. They allow us to measure the dimensions of an object or to describe the outcomes of a decision. There has long been a desire to use numbers […]

The university in the populist age

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Right-wing populism threatens the future of higher education, but remaining passive and retreating to a disinterested vision of the university will actually strengthen the attacks. Faculty have a responsibility to work in solidarity to fight back against these threats. Right-wing populism has been on the rise in recent years, intensifying following the 2008 global financial […]

Trump, Brexit, and the academy

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There is some truth in the populist attack that the academy has sold-out to corporate interests and become inaccessible to many. Universities should unambiguously reassert themselves as transparent and open institutions that serve the public interest. “The Brexit vote and the Trump campaign, as well as the success of populist candidates around the world, highlight […]

A populist wake-up call for universities

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For many, universities do not represent opportunity or self-realization, but instead elite self-regard and academic exchanges in which they see no relevance. What can faculty do to change these perceptions? Can we step out of our bubble for a moment? I hope so, because unless we do we will not see that we are losing […]

International students and Canada’s future on the right

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Populist and anti-immigrant sentiment in the US and UK means that more international students are coming to study at postsecondary institutions in Canada. But, what Canada will they find when they get here? The political events of the past year have been a recurring sitcom of oddities, leading many Canadians to bring out the popcorn […]

Canada’s university administrators must pay attention to right-wing activism on campuses

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The surge in racism on university campuses is part of a broader right-wing awakening across the country. University administrators must counter these developments, or the credibility of their institutions will suffer. That a populist wave has swept over much of the Western world (and beyond) in recent years should not be lost on Ontario’s post-secondary […]

Global higher education, social solidarity, and the new nationalism

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Higher education serves both national and global interests in the pursuit of knowledge and student learning. Given populism’s nationalist roots, there is mounting pressure to redefine the university’s mission. How should universities respond? The last twelve months have seen a great shift in the North Atlantic political landscape, with only Canada immune (so far). Nobody […]