In Search of Efficiencies in Higher Education…or something…

“The greatest waste now confronting us is not one of money but of human possibilities.” – John Maynard Keynes  

Ms Soapbox is concerned that the recent announcement by Mr Nicolaides, the minister of Advanced Education, has brought Alberta another step closer to squandering its human possibilities.

Mr Nicolaides announced the implementation of a new “outcomes-based” funding model for 26 post secondary institutions, which will tie a percentage of an institution’s operating budget to performance measures. The percentage will start at 15% and increase to 40% by 2022-23.

Mr Nicolaides said this “outcomes-based” system is necessary to ensure post secondary institutions remain accountable for the investment taxpayers make in them. It will provide more clarity to taxpayers on what the funding is meant to accomplish.  And it will ensure schools compete against themselves to achieve these goals.

Does anyone have any idea what he’s talking about?

No, of course not. Words like “accountable”, “investment”, “clarity” and “compete against themselves” are meaningless unless you see them in context.  Mr Nicolaides hasn’t provided much in the way of context, but he has discussed a few specifics.     

Mr Nicolaides and Mr Kenney congratulating themselves

20 performance metrics

Each institution will have up to 20 performance metrics, the metrics will be weighted to take into account the type of school, and if the school does not hit its target it will receive funding in proportion to what it achieves (80% of a target yields 80% of the funding for that target).

As someone who worked in the private sector for over twenty years, 20 performance metrics is way too many. The corporations I worked for issued four to five performance metrics annually. These would cascade down from the performance metrics the executives set for themselves. They usually included the following: (1) health, safety and environment, (2) overall corporate performance, (3) business unit performance, and (4) a personal performance metric. These four or five metrics were individualized by three or four targets that were measurable and relevant to my specific role.   

Institutions assessed as a whole

Institutions will be assessed as a whole, not based on individual programs or departments.

Hmmm. The University of Calgary has 108 undergraduate programs, 15 graduate study programs, an open studies program for degree and non-degree holders, and 63 continuing education programs. Pity the poor schmuck who gets stuck with coming up with the school-wide performance assessment given this range of programing. And good luck running the performance assessment document up the flag pole through the various levels of leadership, including the Board of Governors, who will be keenly interested in seeing the document before it’s delivered to the minister.    

3 year funding agreements

Funding agreements will be in place for 3 years instead of being renewed annually.

This is good news for an institution that gets full funding because it provides funding certainty for the next three years, but it’s bad news for an institution that did not get fully funded in year one because any improvements it makes over the next two years will not count.

Performance targets

The new outcomes-based model will tie funding to successfully meeting performance targets, including improving services, increasing efficiencies, developing innovative programs and research and connecting graduates with jobs.

These are wonderfully vague targets that any administrator with an ounce of creativity should be able to meet.   


Possible metrics include graduate employment rate, median graduate income, graduate skills and competencies, work-integrated learning opportunities, administrative expense ratio, sponsored research revenue, enrolment (including potential targets for domestic students, international students and under-represented learners).

Some of these metrics are completely within the institutions’ control and are not problematic per se; but others like graduate employment rate and median graduate income are dependent on the economy which, contrary to what Mr Kenney says, is not driven by government policy but by global markets.

And while we’re on the topic of goofy metrics, how would one assess graduate skills and competencies other than by counting the number of students who graduated and who, by definition, have the skills and competencies required to graduate in their field of study.   

The purpose of post secondary education

Instead of thoughtfully considering the role of post secondary education in today’s rapidly changing world—and it’s not to ‘add value’ to students before spitting them out into the market place—the UCP government decided to graft a corporate performance management tool onto Alberta’s institutions of high learning.  

Fear not, Mr Nicolaides says, the details of his outcome-based funding model will be hammered out in consultations with educators and students by Apr 1, 2020. That’s just a little more than two months, folks.  

Ms Soapbox says good luck with that.

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44 Responses to In Search of Efficiencies in Higher Education…or something…

  1. Carl HUNT says:

    As someone who worked in the government sector, for one of the underfunded divisions,.I wonder how many grad research projects will be funded that study impacts of pesticides on public health or ‘birds & bees’ and other critters? How about the impacts of Tar Sands on water quality or the effects of forest canopy removal on flood frequency & intensity? What about the leakage of toxic chemicals into our groundwater from fracking or those poor little Orphan Wells? Some studies might not meet the political standards to qualify for funding because they would cause negative profit outcomes for industries.

    • Keith McClary says:

      If you scroll down the linked Calgary Herald article

      to Madeline Smith’s twitter, you will see “sponsored research revenues”. That means corporations paying the university to do secret proprietary projects. If scientists want funding, they better get the Right answers.

      • Indeed, Keith. I was looking at the U of C’s website. It says in 2018-19 research funding came from two sources: $487.8 million was the result of sponsored funding and $90.3 million came from Tri-Council (government) funding. Tri-Council is made up of three government funding bodies: the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), the Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR) and the National Science and Engineering Council of Canada (NSERC). It’s not clear from the website who contributed the sponsored funding, but given they contribute five times as many dollars in research funding than the government one would expect them to have a significant impact on the nature of the U of C’s research program. I’m sure any researcher seeking funding is very cognizant of this fact.

    • This is an excellent question Carl. The conservative ideology is founded on the belief that Reagan/Thatcher got it right. The solution to everything is faster economic growth which requires low taxes, less “red tape”, reducing the power of unions and more privatization and deregulation. Tying a university’s operating funding to “sponsored research” is aligns with this ideology. One would hope that at the very least independent researchers would not feel like they have to sell their integrity for funding, but who knows anymore.

  2. Judy Johnson says:

    Thanks for this, Susan. Schools that fail to live up to government standards, many of which are not quantifiable, should receive MORE funding to address underlying problems— socioeconomic conditions and chronic familial stress, for starters. Unfortunately, Kenney’s heartless, mean-spirited government wouldn’t see the value in such a progressive approach. They’d rather increased class-sizes and freeze teacher’s salaries than try to solve problems they help create. The UCP caucus appears to be as brainwashed, dogmatic, and sycophantic as Trump’s toadies in the American Senate. I hope I’m 100% wrong about that!

    • I wish I could like this more than once. Anyone who has worked in education knows that schools struggling to reach arbitrary standards need more funding, not less. Also, all schools need more teachers and teaching resources, not fewer.

    • Judy, I agree! Education, particularly higher education, is as much qualitative as it is quantitative. For the UCP government to think it can impose performance measures on these institutions with 2 months of “consultation” with educators and students is preposterous. I can’t stress enough the fact that when the private sector uses performance measures, it develops these performance measures internally. Why? Because the corporation is in the best position to assess what its goals should be and how best to get there. Can you imagine what would have happened if Kenney imposed performance measures on the oil companies as a precondition to giving them the $4.7 billion in corporate tax cuts? The companies would have gone insane.

  3. Jerrymacgp says:

    This whole initiative is founded on a fundamental misunderstanding, or perhaps an ideological bent, about the role of post-secondary education. Universities, in particular, are not intended to be mere trade schools — we have community colleges and polytechnic institutions for that. Universities are intended not just to teach job skills but to educate their students to develop skills in critical inquiry and intellectual curiosity. That’s why even professional degree programmes, like engineering and nursing, require additional credits in courses outside the core programme of study, such as in the humanities. For instance, my U of A degree — a BScN (Post-RN) — required me to take courses in English, Political Science, Statistics and Philosophy.

    Of course, none of this is meant to denigrate the role of, or the graduates of, more occupationally targeted education in those self-same community colleges and polytechnics. Not everyone in our society is cut out to go to university, and I have great respect for people who learn their trade and practice it well — my own son has a Red Seal trade ticket, and even though he no longer works in that specific trade, it has truly been his ticket to a rewarding career in the natural gas sector.

    But universities are supposed to be special. They are supposed to educate beyond the specific needs of a particular job or occupation, and provide graduates with portable skills that can be applied in a wide variety of careers and occupations.

    • Carlos Beca says:

      I fully agree with you. Universities are not productivity centers. Universities like you very well define are centers of higher learning and not Job creation plants.
      This idea of performance is just another total lack of knowledge of what Universities are for but not surprising. Just a total shallow knowledge of reality outside of their obsessed market view of life that has destroyed many countries bottom line and development plans and it is already recognized has being outdated and silly. Of course the UCP being the party of the Flat earth fundamentalists could not implement anything but policies that were the rage during Ralph Klein destructing period. They will be pushing for more as they get more and more comfortable with how to control their ‘consumers’ reaction and increase propaganda. The problem is not now but in the immediate future. Edmonton already has the highest unemployment of any other city in Canada and because a boom is almost impossible at this time, it is going to get worse. Not to worry we will cut the Corporate taxes even more and thousands of jobs will be created, a policy that has not worked for a long time now.

      • Carlos, you’ve nailed it. Keynes said when we allowed the economists to shape society (it’s all about economic growth, everything else is secondary) we changed the direction of civilization. We’ve seen the consequences of this stunted vision in Alberta. The majority of the population believes the role of government is to kowtow to the corporations because corporations will give them jobs. They don’t understand that the role of government is to create the conditions for what professors Robert and Edward Skidelsky call “the good life.” They define the good life as a set of basic needs: health, security, respect, personality, harmony with nature, friendship and leisure. They use these terms in a specific way that I can’t get into in this little space, but their book How Much Is Enough? The Love of Money, and the Case for the Good Life, is well worth reading.

      • carlosbeca says:

        Talk about Red Tape 🙂

    • I agree Jerry, The suggestion that higher education must be geared to producing graduates who are employable in their field misses the point entirely. And yet two of the targets (graduate employment rate and median graduate income) suggest that is exactly where the UCP is going. One of the best lawyers I’ve ever met is a young woman who works at a prestigious law firm in Washington DC. Her undergraduate degree was in Latin. Can you imagine some poor university administrator trying to figure out whether they can count this young woman in the calculation of graduate employment rates and median graduate income. They’d have to figure out (1) what is the appropriate job for a graduate in Latin, (2) what is the appropriate income for such a graduate, and (3) is the fact she went to law school and became a lawyer evidence that her undergraduate education was worthless.
      The UCP says this is an exercise in making universities more accountable to taxpayers (more on that later) but it’s really an exercise in control.

    • GoinFawr says:

      ” Universities, in particular, are not intended to be mere trade schools — we have community colleges and polytechnic institutions for that.”

      Hear’ Hear’!
      Well stated, indeud.

      • GoinFawr, it’s weird how Kenney goes on and on about trades being just as valuable as a higher education, the implication being that someone (who?) thinks Albertans in the trades are not as worthy as Albertans in the professions. Given that what you do is not determinative of who you are, I suspect this is another example of Kenney trying to create divisions.

  4. Peter Usher says:

    The proposed ‘outcomes-based’ approach is a fraughtful reminder of what I experienced in BC during the Social Credit reign in the 1980s.

    The government theme for us in tertiary institutions was — PRODUCTIVITY!

    Then, as now, the government did not provide any meaningful definition of productivity or how it was to be applied within the institutions throughout the province. We experienced a period of serious angst and distraction from our daily academic responsibilities, work disruptions in the form of strikes and lockouts, and the termination of staff and faculty.

    The government was very productive in creating chaos! As ultra-right conservatives, they too did not, could not, and would not see that their approach was antithesis to human possibilities.

    • Peter your comment that the search for “productivity” creates chaos is bang on. One of Mr Nicolaides’ justifications for the “outcomes-based” approach is that it will ensure schools will “compete against themselves.” Compete against themselves? What does that mean? Will the anthropology department compete against the sociology department and the engineering department? If so, how is this possible and why is it a good thing?
      I saw plenty of “competition” in the private sector when my company went through downsizing after downsizing. These were the most destructive and unproductive periods in my working life. Internal competition is not a laudable goal, particularly not in a university setting where the impact of such disruption is born by the students who are paying good money and taking on debt for the privilege of being educated.

  5. diamondwalker says:

    .. excellent breakdown, thanks.. the comments are astute !
    FYI .. The Disaffected Lib (today, posts an intriguing bit re Obama speaking to students recently – easily found in Progressive Bloggers, prior to your post) (I commented under a different alias..

    (( FYI, I do so mainly because of differing comment requirements, validations etc and my various personal blogs are via many different providers & their platforms. Diamond Walker is also The Salamander as well as on Twitter as the @salamanderhorde which is nearing 50,000 tweets somehow. My blogs are primarily photographic imagery of Canada & around the world, or documentary film & video development or fiction writing such as Diamond Walker which is an unpublished 1st novel set in BC) Those that know, recognize the opening signature of ‘ .. ‘ the two dots to all communications.. here n there I use the actual scare quotes plus the two dots resembling a salamander or sign off with the salamander emoji or my other icon. My Facebook is under yet another name.. my knickname from way back in the way before as many peeps only know me by that name. I also communicate via ‘backchannel’ ie email or text with certain bloggers ))

    • Diamondwalker, thanks for referring us to Progressive Bloggers and the piece on Obama.. He said “young people need to think about things that have not been done before, and skills that include interacting with other human beings. Creativity, analytical thinking and team building are the types of skills that will continue to be vital in a future full of job automation,” I thought this was bang on.
      Thanks also for the background information, clearly you in your many personas have a lot going on. I was particularly intrigued by the fact you’ve written a book. Will you be publishing it through a hybrid or traditional publishing house?

  6. Ted says:

    Sadly the advanced education guy is bringing cunning, confusion, chaos and cuts into his toxic mix. Another pile on alongside health care, senior care and every other ministry where human and environmental services are being mercilessly slashed. Be rapid, be ruthless, be efficient and soon people’s names will be removed and subsitituted with identity niumbers. Such are the cold and calculated machinations of Jason Kenney and his gang. Sir Roger Douglas must be smiling.

    • Ted, you’re right about Kenney’s alignment with Sir Roger Douglas, a politician Kenney speaks of with high praise. I note that Douglas was described as someone who was limited by an inability to accept or understand interests that were not aligned with his own. From what I’ve seen so far the only interests Kenney is prepared to fully support are those of the business community, hence the $4.7B tax break, the lifting of caps on auto insurance, the support for privatization of government services, particularly health and education, etc.
      Kenney’s hypocrisy continues to astound me. On the one hand he calls for greater independence from the feds, on the other he demands the feds bail him out on everything from rural policing to cleaning up abandoned and orphan wells.
      As you said, Sir Roger Douglas must be smiling.

  7. CallmeHal2000 says:

    If there is truly going to be meaningful consultation with post-secondary institutions, why did Mr. Nicolaides announce on Twitter, less than five hours after announcing these changes, that most of the data for the metrics had already been gathered, so there would be no red tape? Where did the data come from — Ontario, B.C., the US., Cyprus? And what period of time was this information gathered from?

    These are just a few of the questions. And they lead to other questions, like the question of taking funding away from one university and giving it to another. These colleges and universities don’t all have the same playing field. Not all offer the same standards of accommodation to students with disabilities. Length of time to complete a degree may vary, but what is wrong with wanting students with disabilities to have the same learning opportunities and earning opportunities as others? Accommodations can make a lifetime of difference to a now-contributing member of society.

    And how about students who have to earn money working at jobs while going to university/college? Shall they and their programs be punished for delayed graduation, and for government policies like tuition increases, reduced minimum wage, reduced tax credits for post-secondary education and increased student loan rates that necessitate these jobs in the first place?

    And how about gatekeeping? This kind of thing happens in charter schools, and one can assume in private universities. Cherry-pick admissions and surprise! — the results may be different.

    Soon those profitable foreign student tuitions will look even more attractive, and places for Alberta students at Alberta PSIs may decrease. There won’t be enough money in that. Show me the money!

    And who needs lower-paying traditionally female occupations like social work and daycare? Profitable jobs are rewarded in this new funding model. Career fields without maximum earning potential may drag an institution down, when program funding is linked to students’ wages after graduation. Schools that don’t offer these programs won’t be dragged down, so best to get rid of them. No matter if these fields are valuable to society. Where is the money?

    As someone pointed out to me, the endpoint stupidity of all this could be a situation of a health system with all doctors, but no lab techs, sterlization technicians or social workers, because only the highest-paying jobs will matter to our universities and colleges. Of course the patients won’t see it this way.

    So many questions with no answers until this kicks in in April. How many students will see their programs dumped mid-stream over the summer in evasive manoeuvres by their colleges and universities? Will small programs get the axe immediately? Ask those Mount Royal jazz students, whose program was dumped like a hot potato. Talk about inducing anxiety.

    And here is the elephant in the room. When government takes punitive measures against certain fields of work, government then affects funding for education for those fields of work at post-secondary institutions. Cut public sector employment in those fields, and funding to educate those workers will go down. Government controls the data for the metrics, and one of the metrics is time to find find employment in the field for which one was educated. This government is not good at peering into the future of employment and the economy of this province. So the UCP might want lots of geologists, geophysicists and petroleum engineers, because these are profitable jobs and fit the ideology. But these jobs don’t look rosy for employment. Never mind. Government controls the data selected for the metrics. There’s room for manipulation to suit hidden agendas. If tech jobs and alternative energy jobs are the way of the future, why train people if jobs are not in the here and now, or in past metric-affirming data? Gaze into the past longingly, for that is what truly matters to the data-metrics calculator.

    As for arts, liberal education and general sciences, there are no specific career paths for these. So what if these fields are often starting points for law, medicine (and sometimes before degree completion) and further degrees and training, get rid of them all. They don’t measure up on the metrics. Dropping programs before completion, just to become a high-earning lawyer or doctor? Still bad. They must go. Immediate employment is what matters, not going on for more training and education. Dropping out of anything is bad. (Except for politicians, for whom it is desireable.)

    I’ve just scratched the surface of my concerns, but will leave it here for now.

    • Excellent points CallmeHall and ones that should be aired widely.
      With respect to the red tape question, Mr Nicolaides said the reason we shouldn’t be concerned about red tape is because the bulk of this information already exists in the data collected by the universities. Really? Universities are tracking median graduate income? I graduated in law from U of C. Not once have I received a questionnaire asking me to tell them my income and if I had received such a questionnaire I would have chucked it in the trash because that information is private and I would never release it to anyone but Revenue Canada.
      This is one gigantic boondoggle that will tie post secondary institutions up in knots, which as many of us suspect is the rationale behind it all.

  8. CallmeHal2000 says:

    When the minister said individual programs are not on the line, that is misleading. PSIs will be competing against each other. Funding will be taken away and given to the “winner”. The stakes are high, up to 40 per cent of funding is on the line, in time. PSIs will cut programs to keep in line with other PSIs, in a race to the bottom. The minister can let them fight it out with each other. He can even threaten them with big hammer, like Ardriana LaGrange, if they have to cut staff because of the funding changes. Perhps he’ll threaten them all with audits, too. The students will lose. They always do. I predict program cuts sooner, rather than later.

    • I agree CallmeHal. The reality is many PSIs will not receive the level of funding they received in the past and the “outputs based” funding plan will be used to justify the reduction. ie. the PSIs did it to themselves because they simply weren’t up to the mark. As you mentioned above, in the end it’s the students who will suffer, when we make it difficult for students to get a decent education in Alberta we drive them out of the province. When they leave we all suffer because they’re not coming back.
      But hey, we’ve saved money and eliminated the deficit so future generations won’t be saddled with debt, AND we’re able to continue to subsidize the energy sector, so all’s well, right?

  9. CallmeHal2000 says:

    April Fool’s Day is going to be interesting, when provincial public service contracts have expired, and post-secondary funding changes kick in at the same time. Who will be laughing?

    • CallmeHal: Who will be laughing? Jason Kenney and his puppet caucus. The rest of us will have to learn to survive while public services continue to erode and subsidies to corporations continue to increase.

  10. diamondwalker says:

    .. realistically, the entire pomp and ceremony via Jason Kenney et al is farcical. Its on a par with as if Jason Kenney decided farcically that a hostile supervisory role over what goes on in the bedrooms of Albertans would be any of his or his political Party’s business. It could never be of course.. and would not be in his ‘job description as an elected public servant’. Thus so, would be any hostile real takeover of Albertan Education or Medicine protocols.. (a la Harper capturing the ‘Progressive Conservative Party’ Brand and wrapping his Reform – Alliance Party in it, an astonishing grift, aided by that shallow sellout Peter MacKay). Albertans need to tell Kenney to ‘shove it’ .. butt out of such aspects. His and his government’s job is to facilitate the developments and curriculm of educators snd ensure the budgetary resources flow as needed. But this is the era where thugs like Doug Ford, Stephen Harper & Jason Kenney believe they can even legislate retroactive new laws to quash already established laws and settled legal and court decisions.

    • DiamondWalker: you mentioned Peter MacKay, who is now being touted in the press as the moderate Tory candidate (everything is relative, I guess). A man who was described by the G&M in 2015 as having repeatedly “soiled his record” with the purchase of F-35s, the military-helicopter fishing-trip junket, judicial appointments, and drafting unconstitutional laws. One can’t help but wonder whether Jason Kenney sits at home late at night regretting his decision to leave the federal Cons when he did. He may not have been able to beat Rona Ambrose, but Peter MacKay? Maybe.
      Ah well, time marches on, Kenney had his chance to run for the leadership after Harper stepped down. He failed to rise to the challenge and now he’ll never get another chance. Good for the rest of Canada, not so good for Alberta.

  11. Dwayne says:

    Susan: Thanks for another great blog. I’ve been very busy, as of late, but have only this to say about the UCP’s moves on post secondary funding based on performance. It is one of their many poorly thought out ideas. If we judged the UCP’s performance, they would be getting no salary, and would not be MLAs.

    • Dwayne, this is an excellent comparison. Let’s start with Jason Kenney’s promise to pass the Job Creation Tax Cut. This was touted on the UCP official webpage as the “centrepiece” of the UCP’s job creation strategy “to reignite the economy, create jobs, and get Alberta back to work.” Under Mr Nicolaides’s scheme we would be right to look at the economy (still stagnating), job creation record (down 55,000 jobs) and getting Alberta back to work (nope, things are worse). Jason Kenney’s performance on this metric is abysmal. He deserves a big fat zero.
      Mr Kenney is lucky he’s a public servant, if he were the CEO of a major corporation he’d be fired.

      • Dwayne says:

        Susan: Well, as I am still very busy with personal matters, now that I’ve got a wee bit of spare time, I have some other concerns that I can bring up. A friend of mine was just talking to me recently and brought up the issue of Edmonton having the highest rate of unemployment of any major city in Canada, at 8%. This is staggering. It harkens back to 1993. So, do people finally realize that Jason Kenney’s corporate tax cuts are a mere joke? I also heard that our neighbours to the south, in America, have really bumped up their shale oil output. It is so intense that even OPEC has no power to do anything about it. Oil prices took a big downward swing. So, now what is Jason Kenney going to do? More cuts are likely to come. Not little cuts, but deep cuts. This is going to hurt so many people. If Jason Kenney is hoping for another oil boom, he’s very mistaken if he thinks it will happen. Alberta loses major revenue from low oil prices like these. Jason Kenney’s corporate lax cuts have lost Alberta nearly $5 billion. Basically, this spells trouble.

  12. Dave says:

    One problem with using outcomes, is you can’t be all things to all people and some outcomes conflict. For instance, the UCP promised tax cuts, a reduced deficit, job growth and no service cuts. Well, they sort of delivered on the tax cuts (corporate only, not personal), but are not doing so well on reducing the deficit (largely because of the tax cuts), jobs are not growing and services are being cut.

    Likewise, an educational institution can be world class and deliver excellent research, but not with reduced funding. If jobs are not growing (see UCP promise above), it will also be hard for those institutions to deliver on producing jobs, even if they try to become glorified technical institutes, which will probably hurt being world class and deliver excellent research.

    Like the UCP example above, the most likely outcome will an achievement of one item at the expense of the others. The UCP is most likely to fixate on the number of graduates that are employed, although that might not fully capture whether their skills are being well used. Being a used car salesman man may not be the best use for a degree in education or science.

    Also, while Alberta institutions may be on sort of a level playing field, lets not forget they compete against institutions elsewhere in Canada and in the world for the brightest students here . As tuition increases and the quality of education here stagnates at best, or more likely declines, the best students in Alberta will be more and more tempted to look elsewhere. Another example of the brain drain, I suppose. After graduation, they will also probably have no problem finding jobs in the growing tech sector in some other Canadian provinces, never to return to Alberta except for perhaps occasional visits. After oil, our greatest export could become people.

    We badly need to diversify our economy and get of the oil and gas roller coaster; quality education is probably one of the best ways to help do it. Instead, the UCP seems to have put all the chips on blue and on oil. I don’t think that will turn out very well for us.

    • Amy says:

      Absolutely agree that we need to diversity the economy (has been said many times). Going to be hard to train the thinkers we need for the future if higher education is focused only on graduating people for the jobs of today.

      • Carlos Beca says:

        Not very difficult to understand your concept other than for people that their only concern is enrich those that support them. Not that difficult to figure out who they are but again it depends who is doing the thinking. Right now many people are wondering what virus took over Nicolaides to be implementing such a cumbersome, full of controversy, tried and dropped full of red tape system. It almost sounds like an intentional move to make it difficult to find University Administrators. Sounds very American and I am sure that is why some UCP found it in the archives of some Ayn Rand institution.
        Right now MIT and Stanford are expanding their liberal arts programs to give their students the critical thinking they need more and more in a challenging world. Of course that kind of concept is just too far out for the UCP average IQ

    • Dave, you’re absolutely right. Your example highlights the problem of conflicting outcomes in government and at universities.
      One of my major concerns with Mr Nicolaides’s model is it superimposes a corporate management tool used by corporations to foster internal alignment with their business model and boost productivity, onto post secondary institutions which have completely different objectives. They are as different as chalk and cheese.
      Corporations expect their employees to hit 70% of their targets or even higher (executives regularly hit 120% of their targets, I know I did). Any employee who consistently falls below 70% is put on notice and will be fired if they don’t improve.
      Post secondary institutions don’t work that way. Students are graded on a bell curve. The majority land in the middle, not at the 80 to 100% mark. Add to this the problem of trying to evaluate the quality of instructors, the quality of research in one faculty compared to another, and the quality of journal articles in say, the Lancet versus the American Ethnologist and it’s obvious this is the wrong tool.
      It once again demonstrates the UCP think the corporate world has the answers to everything. This is beyond sloppy and lazy. It’s downright dangerous.

  13. GoinFawr says:

    “…or something.”

    Chris Hedges outlines that ‘something’ quite concisely:

    “This utopian vision of the market, of course, bears no relationship to its reality. Capitalists hate free markets….These corporate capitalists spend hundreds of millions of dollars to fund organizations such as Business Roundtable and the Chamber of Commerce and think tanks such as The Heritage Foundation to sell the ideology to the public. They lavish universities with donations, as long as the universities pay fealty to the ruling ideology. They use their influence and wealth, as well as their ownership of media platforms, to transform the press into their mouthpiece. And they silence heretics or make it hard for them to find employment… Everything is financialized and commodified.”

    Progressive Alberta: your voter apathy, and your continued tolerance of the intolerant is going to cost you dearly. I know it would be nice if the banquet of consequences currently being served up ONLY blew back in the faces of the ridiculous FUBAR (Give ‘er!) dupes urinating into the wind and telling themselves it’s raining, but the reality is they will take you down with them and call it a ‘win’ if you allow it, and the Used Car Party has its way.

  14. CallmeHal2000 says:

    Here’s what happens when government puts restraints on young people’s futures. They leave. It’s not just a brain drain. It’s the future imploding on itself.

    Making post-secondary education unaffordable by cutting student wages, increasing student loan costs, increasing tuition fees, cutting post-secondary tax credits and the unknown effects of the April 1 changes to post-secondary funding will only amplify the exodus. This is a generation who grew up in overcrowded classrooms under previous conservative governments, and who suffered anxiety from previous compulsory standardized testing starting at Grade Three. They sure don’t want their children to suffer the same fate when the time comes to start a family. They have seen too much from an early age, with 9/11, the Boxing Day tsunami and other world events. In an uncertain world, why add to the stress? Find a better way, find a better place, and Alberta is not it. Brought to you by the UCP.

    • CallmeHal, this is a very distressing story. When I moved back to Calgary in 2007, the median age was around 33. It was a vibrant city looking forward to the future. Now it’s struggling to prevent itself from turning into the next Detroit. The UCP policies you’ve described so well offer our young people nothing. No wonder they’re leaving. If they go we’re sunk, because our premier, who’s firmly rooted in the Thatcher/Reagan era, has no idea how to keep them here. But then again maybe he doesn’t want them to stay, they ask too many questions that he can’t answer.

      • CallmeHal2000 says:

        Ouch! One day after the provincial budget, SAIT has announced 230 layoffs.

        The U. Of C. already announced 250 layoffs, but they’re considering more. Just helping the UCP deliver on the austerity mandate given to them by Albertans, said the university’s president.

        Every day there is less reason for students to stay here or come here for post-secondary education. How long before programs are cut and enrollment is restricted? April is coming.

      • CallmeHal2000 as you said, this is not how a province goes about attracting the brightest and the best teaching and research faculty which in turn limits opportunities for the students and results in a more stunted future for the province as a whole. With respect to the university’s president, some of my friends are university profs; to say that they’re less than impressed would be putting it kindly.

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