What the US can learn from Canada about improving higher ed

Dive Brief:

  • Columnist Jeff Selingo writes in the Washington Post about the growing need for American colleges to duplicate the Canadian format of higher education service delivery and offer fewer colleges that are larger in size and comprehensive in offerings, rather than an increased number of smaller institutions.
  • Citing the enrollment of Canada’s three major universities — the University of Toronto, McGill University, and the University of British Columbia — Selingo pointed out they collectively enroll more students than all of America’s top institutions combined. 
  • Elite public and private institutions could increase their enrollment without sacrificing quality he says, but lower-rated institutions would suffer immeasurably if these top schools elected to expand.  

Dive Insight:

There are multiple layers to the insight on Selingo’s proposition, but they all lead back to the common idea that America does not need so many colleges and universities, and many should consider merging or closing. But this idea leads to many questions about the growing number of poor and minority students who either wouldn’t receive access or who would not be prepared to complete education in upper-tier schools.

What happens to students who do not receive adequate training in secondary or community college systems, and later find themselves overwhelmed by the workload and rigor of a large, elite four-year institution? There is a case to be made for reducing the number of schools, but only with an honest assessment about how lawmakers and college leaders can address cultures of inequity which persist beyond the campus gates.

Filed Under: Higher Ed