The Canadian Council on Learning released its final report in October of 2011. The demise of the research organization was brought on by the current federal government’s decision to pull CCL’s funding. Less well known is the fact that CCL also received little support from educational institutions who occastionally interpreted CCL’s objectives as counter to their own.

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In Canada, higher education is organized province-by-province. From its inception, CCL argued that Canada needs a nation-wide strategy for ensuring quality and accessibility in education, everything from Junior Kindergarten to workforce training.

CCL used its last report – its last kick at the can – to reiterate this core message. The table below the report makes the case that Canada is one of the few OECD countries without some sort of national dimension for higher education.

Unfortunately, the report, like much of what CCL produced, is short on details and tries to cover too much territory in too little space. Nevertheless, I’m highly sympathetic to the argument that Canada needs a national plan for higher education. Gossip suggests that CCL was faced with indifference and near-hostility from individual colleges and universities who saw the desire to create coordination in Canadian higher education as a threat to their autonomy. And it may in fact, they may be right: greater coordination between provinces and institutions will likely reduce the ability of institutions to define their own position in the higher ed landscape. But as some have argued (see Ian Clark’s new book), Canada has a preponderance of institutions that are seeking to establish themselves as comprehensive research-intensive entities. In a country with such a high rate of participation in post-secondary education, it seems probable that greater differentiation between institutions is in our interest.

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