The Future of Canadian Universities Panel – March 28th

The landscape of Canadian higher education is changing. Provincial government mandates are calling for increased opportunities for online learning, stronger transfer opportunities between colleges and universities, and there is a move toward a new kind of teaching-only institution.

The Canadian Studies program and instructors from the course, The University in Canada (UNI305) will bring together members of Ontario’s higher education community to address these timely topics and their impact for a panel discussion entitled, The Future of Canadian Universities.

Panelists for this March 28 event are: Harvey Weingarten, President and CEO of the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO), Professor Ian Clark from U of T’s School of Public Policy and Governance, Melonie Fullick, a PhD Candidate at York University and Professor Suzanne Stephenson, Vice-Dean of Teaching and Learning at U of T’s Faculty of Arts & Science.

“Higher education is the public sector most critical to Canada’s future social and economic health and competitiveness,” Weingarten said.

“It is important that we get this sector right,” he added. “We are not there yet but the will and courage to make the tough decisions to reform higher education could get us there and, if we do, Canada will prosper.”

The Future of Canadian Universities panel is one of the final sessions of the University in Canada course, offered through the Canadian Studies Program. “One of the goals of the course is to provide students, as future leaders and voters in a range of sectors and jurisdictions, with the ability to critically assess information and proposals about the university,” said Pamela Gravestock, a co-instructor of UNI305 and panel co-moderator.

Students attending this panel will see the issues they have been discussing throughout the semester in the broader context and how the proposed mandates could affect universities in the future.

“[This panel] will help students consider how universities might change in the years to come,” said Emily Greenleaf, a co-instructor of UNI305 and panel moderator.

It will also address issues such as the government’s goal to move toward a skills-focused curriculum, interactive learning and providing more flexible ways of earning credit and progressing through a degree.  “These proposed changes may lead to the emergence of more diverse and specialized institution than what we currently see,” said Gravestock. ”All universities face a future of potential substantial change.”

Attendees can also expect to hear about the forces that will be driving these changes over the next decade and how governments and university leaders are likely to respond.
“The combination of rising university costs, tightening government budgets and revolutionary new technologies has made higher education a hot public policy topic,” said Clark.

The Future of Canadian Universities
28 March 2013

2pm – 4pm
University College, Room 140
15 King’s College Circle

If you have any questions about this panel presentation, please contact Dr. Gravestock at or 416-946-8585.

Future of Canadian Universities Panel poster


Still in the game

Scholarly Kitchen recently posted a piece on what scholarly publishing could learn from their trade colleagues. The focus of this post was the need for an online bookstore bringing together scholarly publishers – much like Bookish, an online store that combines the lists of Simon & Shuster, Hachette and Penguin (soon to be merged with Random House). The argument is that while it is hard to compete with Amazon (and why would you when they bring in a lot of revenue) but why not try to increase the playing field.* The author’s opinion is that there are many lessons to be learned, and perhaps most importantly is recognizing that although it might be difficult to win the race, it’s important to stay in the game.**

For those of us in educational development, the culture tends more toward sharing ideas and expertise rather than competitively trying to do do someone else or another office. Our practice grows when we share. We gain resources by seeking out colleague’s research and understanding of events and experience. The struggle is to get the word out so instructors and teaching assistants know where they can go for assistance and resources. So, the question for educational developers, then, is how do we increase our playing field? How can we create an environment where ideas, research and experience can be shared? Could we have an online community (as most teaching support offices survive under strict budgets, anything that might cost money is not too plausible) that allows for different offices from many institutions to post and share resources? Could this be something along the lines of Creative Commons? When there isn’t a revenue stream component or a single governing body it is difficult to bring together these different voices (who, let’s be honest, are already strained with projects and items on the to-do lists). However, I doubt if I speak only for myself when I say, “I wish I knew what everyone was up to….” And I like to know more than a list of accomplishments and upcoming events. Ideally, we could generate a space that is more than water cooler topics but somewhere to share, explore and expand.

* Warning: there are a lot of sports analogies in this post. Strange coming from someone who doesn’t really follow sports and who has been known, during play-offs, to which team you are voting for.

** I did warn you.