The basic structure of universities and colleges in Ontario – one focused primarily on expansion and greater access and put in place in the 1960s – is outdated. The system is now large enough, the eligible age group for entering postsecondary studies is shrinking and participation rates are as high as they are likely to grow. That is the premise that informs a new book by George Fallis, University Professor and professor of economics and social sciences in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies at York University.
In Rethinking Higher Education, Fallis argues that policy makers should shift their attention away from growth and toward improving and diversifying the range of programs available and creating new means of program delivery.
Fallis calls for an increase in undergraduate honours programs of study and polytechnic education. He envisions a group of research intensive universities responsible for doctoral education.
The existing design, Fallis contends, neglects the specific needs of graduate education and research, layering it on top of a system designed for undergraduate education. In addition, there is a disconnect between the Province of Ontario’s Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, and the research missions of the universities and colleges He recommends that Ontario establish a system for documenting and assessing the quality of research published at universities.
Rethinking Higher Education provides a detailed design for higher education in the 21st century. The book is part of the Queen’s School of Policy Studies Series and is published by McGill-Queen’s University Press.
Fallis, who is the former dean of the Faculty of Arts at York University (now the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies), has published widely on public policy and is the author of Multiversities, Ideas, and Democracy (University of Toronto Press).
Rethinking Higher Education will be formally launched on Feb. 11 with a panel discussion and reception in 519 Kaneff Tower, from 4 to 6pm. For more information, see the event information on the Faculty of Education website.