Nothing Less than Great: Reforming Canada’s Universities
Published: June 2021© 2021
232 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 x 0.50 in
Canada’s public higher education system is in trouble. The economic and social benefits of the Canadian university system are widely seen as a public good, which raises a pressing question: Why should we aspire to anything less than a great system? For that to happen, everything about the way universities currently operate, from the boardroom to the classroom, must change – but this kind of operational and public policy transformation will not be easy.
Nothing Less than Great provides an expert analysis of the current state and challenges of Canada’s university system, looking for positive change by reclaiming what a university is meant to offer for society and for citizens. Harvey P. Weingarten begins with the fundamental question that all students must ask about higher education: Is it worth going to university? From there, he stresses the need for transparency about what universities do and what they accomplish, addresses the importance of modernizing curriculum to emphasize skills over content, and provides recommendations for reform.
Exploring how universities might – and should – change to reclaim their central purpose for Canadians, Nothing Less than Great will be of interest to anyone who cares about the future of our country and the important role universities play in determining that future.
About the Title
Acknowledgments and Dedication
1. Introduction: Why This Book, by Me, Now?
2. Is Going to University Worth It?
3. Who Goes to University and Does Everyone Have an Equal Chance to Attend?
4. What Should Students Learn at University and Are They Learning It?
5. The Relationship between University Education and Jobs
6. How Should a Government Manage Its Public University System?
7. Why Are Canadian Universities So Slow to Innovate?
8. Are Canada’s Universities Sustainable?
9. Are Canadian Universities High Quality?
10. Canada’s Public Universities in a Post-COVID World
11. Conclusion: A Recipe for Reform
"Nothing Less than Great benefits from this experience and knowledge of institutions across the country with which [Weingarten] dealt during his time as president of Calgary. He knows the nuances of the relationship between Ontario universities and the government from his time at HEQCO. The book is chock full of data culled from a wide array of studies and secondary sources."Patricia Hughes, Independent Scholar, Slaw
"Nothing Less than Great is an honest and insightful attempt to stress the current and urgent necessity of putting the word "great" into our academic institutions. It's an urgent plea to not be frightened of innovation, even if it sometimes fails. And that's a good message to hear from a profoundly intelligent and incisive mind at such a critical juncture on so many fronts."John Fraser, Literary Review of Canada
"This is an excellent book by an author with wide and deep experience in Canadian public university education. It should command attention from universities, governments, students, and all who care about the future of our universities and those they serve."Peter MacKinnon, President Emeritus, University of Saskatchewan
"An experience- and data-based critique of Canadian universities by an admired leader. It will attract an enriching deluge of responses from the all parts of the sector."Lorna R. Marsden, Professor of Sociology and President Emerita, York University
"It’s increasingly obvious that universities are no longer a panacea for socio-economic mobility or workforce development. In Nothing Less than Great, Harvey P. Weingarten maps the gap between Canada’s substantial investment in post-secondary education and expected outcomes, and then offers a well-articulated plan for closing that gap. Canadian university leaders would do well to follow this sage advice."Ryan Craig, author of A New U: Faster + Cheaper Alternatives to College and College Disrupted: The Great Unbundling of Higher Education
"Canadian universities have, by and large, served Canada well in the past. But times have changed and so must our universities. If you are leading the higher education file in government, whether from the public service or public office, you need to read this book. It will give you an honest lay of the land and the makings of a plan to move our universities forward. It's time to get on with it."Dalton McGuinty, Ontario's 24th Premier
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