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The History of Higher Education: Public Policy and the Division of Responsibilities

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A Teaching Topic in Education

The History of Higher Education: Public Policy and the Division of Responsibilities

This topic examines the history of higher education policy and the division of responsibilities within the jurisdiction or jurisdictions. In this case, most of the material is for the jurisdictions of the United States and Canada.

Topic Learning Outcome: Upon learning this topic, students will be able to understand and describe the key features in the evolution of higher education in North America and the respective roles of the national and subnational governments, and of private institutions and foundations.

Concepts associated with this Topic: Constitutional Division of Powers; Education as Investment; Education as Consumption; Federal Spending Power; Flagship Campus; For-Profit College; Higher Education; Human Capital; Land-Grant College; Pell Grant; Public University; Private University; University System;

Recommended Readings

Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy: JSGS 854 - Higher Education Policy

David Cameron. 1991. More Than an Academic Question: Universities, Governments and Public Policy in Canada. Halifax: IRPP, chs.1, 6, and 10.

Paul Axelrod. 2002. Values in Conflict: The University, the Marketplace, and the Trials of Liberal Education. Montreal: McGill‐Queen’s University Press, ch. 4

J. Robert Pritchard. 2000. “Federal Support for Higher Education in Canada,” Killam Lecture

Martin Trow. 1988. “American Higher Education: Past, Present and Future,” Educational Researcher 17: 13‐23.

Carleton University: PADM 5227 - Higher Education and Society 

Clark, I.D., G. Moran, M.L. Skolnick and D. Trick. Academic Transformation: The Forces Reshaping Higher Education in Ontario. Kingston/Montreal: Queen’s Policy Studies Series, McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2009. For additional background on the book, see the website

Additional Readings: 

The Ontario Post-Secondary Education System: Don Drummond, Drummond Report on Public Finances, 2012

Paul Axelrod, York University, on the Drummond Report, 2012

Bob Rae, Advisor to the Ontario Premier-Post-Secondary Review, 2004

George Fallis, York University-Universities and Democracy 2004, 2011; ; See also: George Fallis, Multiversities, Ideas and Democracy, University of Toronto, Toronto, 2007.

Ian Clark, David Trick, Richard Van Loon-Funding Ontario Universities-The Role of Students, 2011

Richard Van Loon, Former President, Carleton University-Links between Colleges and Universities, 2011

See also: Ian Clark, David Trick and Richard Van Loon, Academic Reform, School of Policy Studies, Queen’s University, Kingston, 2011

Higher Education Policy in the United States: The Economist, American Universities Represent Declining Value for Money, 2012,

Higher Education Policy in the United Kingdom: Government White Paper on Higher Education, 2011,  

Harvard Kennedy School: SUP 442 - Tackling the Toughest Challenges in Modern American Higher Education

David Kirp. Shakespeare, Einstein, and the Bottom Line. Harvard University Presss. 2004. 

Derek C. Bok. Higher Education in America. (Fall, 2013. Princeton Univ. Press).

Additional Resources

"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.

"Ontario Reticence in Higher Education: Is it time to contemplate major system reform?" Ian D. Clark, David Trick and Richard Van Loon, The Blue and White, February 9, 2011

Sample Assessment Questions:    

a) In two pages describe the range of higher education institutions including such terms as university, college, career college, technical college, and continuing education.

b) In two pages describe the essential difference between a public university, a private university and a for-profit university and, using examples, suggest why the relative importance of these institutions differs among different jurisdictions.

c) In two pages, describe the Constitutional division of powers relating to higher education in the United States, Canada, Germany and Australia.

d) In one page describe the difference between higher education as investment and higher education as consumption and why this distinction may be important for policy makers.

Page created by Ian Clark, last edited on 19 June 2015.


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School of Public Policy and Governance