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Ian Clark Web Page at U of T
Academic Reform
Academic Transformation
Atlas of Public Policy and Management

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Academic Reform provides realistic policy options for improving the quality and cost-effectiveness of undergraduate education in Ontario.

Building on the 2009 book, Academic Transformation: The Forces Reshaping Higher Education in Ontario, the authors start with the premise that the teacher-scholar ideal pursued by individual universities has led to a model for undergraduate education in Ontario that is financially unsustainable and does not provide the best possible education for undergraduate students. They draw from the literature on higher education reform and on recent policy initiatives in the United Kingdom, Australia, Europe and selected American states and Canadian provinces to show that options are available for providing high-quality education to an ever-expanding number of students at a more affordable cost to both students and governments.

Academic Reform explores ways to sharpen the universities’ focus on undergraduate teaching and to increase the number of students  attending institutions that focus on undergraduate education, without diminishing Ontario’s ability to attract and retain university researchers of the highest calibre. The authors develop a model for teaching-oriented undergraduate institutions that would complement traditional research universities. They present options for provincial funding and regulation to encourage the creation of such institutions while supporting high-quality undergraduate teaching at existing universities.


 Excerpts from the Book

  Table of Contents
  The Courage to Begin
  The Case for New Undergraduate Institutions (excerpts published in University Affairs)

 Authors' Web Sites

  Ian Clark
  David Trick
  Richard Van Loon

 Background Documents

Pro Forma Financial Projections for New University 1 Sep 2011.xlsx
Pro Forma Financial Projections for New University 1 Sep 2011Use SHIFT+ENTER to open the menu (new window).

 How to Order

  McGill-Queen's University Press

 Praise for Academic Reform

James Downey, former President of Carleton University, University of New Brunswick and University of Waterloo, and founding President of the Higher Education Quality Council of OntarioUse SHIFT+ENTER to open the menu (new window).

At the heart of this splendid book is the conviction that undergraduate teaching and learning is the core of the contract between universities and society, but that the prevailing model of undergraduate education is no longer sustainable and the time for action is urgently now. Books on academic reform are generally long on diagnosis and short on prescription. Not this one. Academic Reform: Policy Options for Improving the Quality and Cost-effectiveness of Undergraduate Education in Ontario is well titled, for it builds both a case and a framework for action by government and universities on a compelling scholarly analysis of the factors and forces affecting higher education at home and abroad. In doing so, the authors draw upon their impressive academic and public-service experience, exhibiting throughout a passionate commitment to higher education. All of us who care about higher education are greatly in their debt. The best way to show it would be to engage with the challenge they set out.

Lorne Whitehead, inventor, entrepreneur, UBC Professor and former Provost, Carnegie Foundation visiting scholar working on undergraduate education improvementUse SHIFT+ENTER to open the menu (new window).

Having spent much of my career advancing innovations, I’ve developed a familiarity with the difficulties of calling for change. Needed change is often delayed by resistive forces that probably, in general, protect us. But occasionally, an insightful few perceive an impending situation in which failure to change will be disastrous. And yet, the disaster often occurs despite the warning. In other cases, the predictions are heard with sufficient clarity and intensity that we do avoid harm and embark on a better course. Often, the difference between such success and failure lies in the quality of communication.  Academic Reform: Policy Options for Improving the Quality and Cost-effectiveness of Undergraduate Education in Ontario is written with crystal clarity, catches one’s attention, and presents a powerful, compelling analysis of changes that are inevitable in Ontario and indeed throughout Canada and much of the world. I hope and believe that this solid, inspiring work will play a key role in advancing the long overdue improvements it so insightfully describes.

Click to view YouTube video of:


 Presentations and Articles

  "Who is Pressing for Metrics on Scholarly Output?" Ian Clark, Slides for the University of Ottawa Workshop on Rankings in the Social Sciences and Humanities, September 24, 2013.
  "Transforming Ontario's Universities: A Citizen's Guide," Ian Clark and David Trick, Slides for Harvard/SPPG Brown Bag Lunch, September 12, 2013.
  "How Online Learning Affects Productivity, Cost and Quality in Higher Education: An Environmental Scan and Review of the Literature," Thomas Carey and David Trick, HEQCO, July 30. 2013.
  "The Diversity of Ontario’s Universities: A Data Set to Inform the Differentiation Discussion," Harvey P. Weingarten, Martin Hicks, Linda Jonker and Shuping Liu, Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario, July 23, 2013.
  "Re-thinking the Traditional University Model: Stay the Course or Radical Change," Ian Clark, Slides for a Panel Discussion, 2013 Annual CAUBO Conference, McMaster University, June 18, 2013.
  "Nine Hard Questions that University Boards Could Ask," Ian Clark, Slides for CUBA Converence, May 4, 2013.
  "Provincial government must adopt more active role in system planning," HEQCO Policy Advice, April 4, 2013.
  "How to get better research - and teaching - from universities," Ian Clark, Policy Options, December 2012-January 2013.
  "College-to-University Transfer Arrangements and Undergraduate Education: Ontario in a National and International Context," David Trick, Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario, January 29, 2013.
  "Reforming Ontario Universities," Ian D. Clark, Canadian Perspective Lecture Series, U of T Senior Alumni Association, February 26, 2013.
  "Evidence of declining literacy among Canadian university graduates lends urgency to academic reform," Ian D. Clark, HEQCO It's Not Academic, December 18, 2012
  "What do the next ten years hold for Canadian universities?" You Tube video of Ian Clark - Ken Coates debate at the Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy, October 19, 2012
  "Looking to California for higher-education policy inspiration," Ian D. Clark, National Post, p. 14, November 28, 2012
  "Recent Research on the Benefits of University for Marginal Students: Implications for Ontario’s Enrollment Planning," Ian D. Clark, Public Policy and Governance Review, November 29, 2012
  "The declining literacy of Canadian university graduates." Ian Clark summary of findings from just-published study by UBC economists, David Green and Craig Riddell. November 14, 2012
  Storyboard for the Ian Clark - Ken Coates debate at the National Council of Academic Vice-presidents, Regina, October 19, 2012
  Ian Clark interviewed for CIUT's show Beyond the Headlines, on PSE Reform in Ontario, for broadcast September 19, 2012
  Ian Clark, Ken Norrie, Michael Skolnik, David Trick and Richard Van Loon, submission to Ontario PSE Consultations: "Reforming Postsecondary Education in Ontario: Nine Ways to Know if You Are Succeeding," September 13, 2012
  California-Ontario public university productivity comparisons (Section 2 of Ian Clark submission to Ontario PSE Consultations), July 30, 2012
  Ian Clark submission to Ontario PSE Consultations: "A new process for assessing and funding research performance in universities," July 30, 2012
  Minister Murray releases a discussion paper titled Strengthening Ontario's Centres of Creativity, Innovation and Knowledge on transformational ideas for Ontario's postsecondary education. June 28, 2012.
  Richard Van Loon comments on Ontario's PSE Transformation consultation paper, CBO Morning, 29 June 2012
  David Trick on The Agenda with Steve Paikin: Universities - Bang for Our Buck? April 25, 2012
  Expanding graduate programs and renewing the professoriate: What’s the connection? Ian D. Clark, David Trick and Richard Van Loon, Academic Matters, March 22, 2012
  Comment by David Trick on “Ontario doesn’t need three new campuses” by George Fallis, Toronto Star, March 5, 2012
  Teaching-only universities would cut education costs, author says, Louise Brown, Toronto Star, February 7, 2012
  Michael Enright of CBC's Sunday Edition talks with Academic Reform authors, February 18, 2012 [Minutes 31:36 to 44:30 in Hour 2]
  Author calls for academic reform, Stephanie Lowe, Ryersonian, February 15, 2012
  "They say high school; we say Mount A" CBC Ottawa interview of Richard Van Loon and Mark Langer on undergraduate universities, February 10, 2012
  Establishing New Undergraduate Universities, Ian Clark and David Trick at OISE|U of T Symposium on Three New Campuses for Ontario, February 7, 2012
  Teaching-oriented universities and undergraduate participation in research, Ian Clark comment on University Affairs article by Alan Slavin, January 29, 2012
  How much is too much research on pedagogy? Alan Slavin with Comment by Ian Clark, University Affairs, January 25 and 29, 2012
  Clark presentation at Alberta-BC New Universities Program, January 16, 2012
  Academic reform: tread carefully, Peter Ricketts with Comments by Ian Clark and Richard Van Loon, University Affairs, January 9 and 12, 2012
  University differentiation should not mean 'two-tiered,' Maureen Mancuso with Comment by Ian Clark, University Affairs, December 5 and 13, 2011
  Where Ontario’s next university must be built, Josh Dehaas, Maclean's On Campus, November 23, 2011
  Improving undergraduate education in Canada – the good and not so good news, Ian Clark, The University Commons (AUCC), November 21, 2011
  No quick fix for universities, Constance Adamson, president of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations, Toronto Star, November 14, 2011
  What can fiscally constrained governments do to improve undergraduate education? Ian Clark, Mowat Opinions, November 11, 2011
  A new book argues for substantial reform to Ontario’s higher-education system, including the introduction of a rare breed of institution in Canada: the teaching-oriented university. University Affairs, November 7, 2011
  Academic Reform Slides for Shifting Gears Symposium, Ian Clark, November 7, 2011
  It’s time to build better bridges between colleges and universities, Richard Van Loon, Ottawa Citizen, November 4, 2011
  Students report on spending at Ontario’s universities, urge quality improvements, Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance, November 2, 2011
  Funding Ontario Universities: What Role Should Students Play, Ian Clark , David Trick , Richard Van Loon, The Blue and White, November 1, 2011
  Universities get an F for failing undergraduates, Jeffrey Simpson, Globe and Mail, October 21, 2011
  The Diminishing Quality of Ontario’s Universities: Can the System be Fixed? Harvey Weingarten, HEQCO, October 18, 2011
  Academic Reform slides for Laurier RE-imagine Universities Conference, Ian Clark, October 20, 2011
  New universities for Ontario, David Trick, Toronto Star, October 15, 2011
  What have our students learned? It's time to measure. Harvey Weingarten, University Affairs, October 11, 2011
  Canadian universities must reform or persish, Globe and Mail, October 11, 2011
  The case for major system reform in Ontario, Ian D. Clark, David Trick and Richard Van Loon, Blue and White, February 9, 2011