Canada has no clear national picture of its higher education system and trails other countries in its ability to set standards, according to a new study of the country's post-secondary sector.
The Canadian Council on Learning says Canada lacks the tools to properly co-ordinate a national strategy for higher education. Bringing together several studies for its analysis, the council concludes that there is "a need for a set of explicit, well-defined national goals and objectives for post-secondary education".
The CCL says that Canada must begin to look at issues of education from a pan-Canadian perspective, and believes the data required to track Canada's performance and progress are incomplete. It calls for a co-ordinated national approach to accreditation, credit transfer, credential recognition and prior learning assessment.
The report, Canadian Post-secondary Education: A Positive Record - An Uncertain Future , says that despite Canada's high number of citizens with post-secondary education (44 per cent), its ability to achieve economic and social objectives will remain weak if it does not weave together some national indicators and offer a clear plan.
Paul Cappon of the CCL said there were gaps in the information and analysis of post-secondary education. "This is preventing us from identifying problems and developing appropriate and innovative solutions," he said. "To put it crudely, other countries are out to eat our lunch if we don't develop a national focus on post-secondary education."
In Canada, education is a provincial jurisdiction but the study says other countries have overcome jurisdictional boundaries. It cites Australia, New Zealand and the UK as having adopted national plans, and applauds the US for creating the Commission on the Future of Higher Education with a mandate to develop a national strategy for higher education.
Details: Canadian Council on Learning: www.ccl-cca.ca