Academic Reform: Policy Options for Improving the Quality and Cost-effectiveness of Undergraduate Education in Ontario



Reference: Academic Reform: Policy Options for Improving the Quality and Cost-Effectiveness of Undergraduate Education in Ontario, Ian D. Clark, David Trick and Richard Van Loon, Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2011, 300 pages.

Google Scholar Citations:    

Book cover summary

Academic Reform provides realistic policy options for improving the quality and cost-effectiveness of undergraduate education in Ontario.

Building on the 2009 book, Academic Transformation: The Forces Reshaping Higher Education in Ontario, the authors start with the premise that the teacher-scholar ideal pursued by individual universities has led to a model for undergraduate education in Ontario that is financially unsustainable and does not provide the best possible education for undergraduate students. They draw from the literature on higher education reform and on recent policy initiatives in the United Kingdom, Australia, Europe and selected American states and Canadian provinces to show that options are available for providing high-quality education to an ever-expanding number of students at a more affordable cost to both students and governments.


In conversation with the authors – click to play

Academic Reform explores ways to sharpen the universities’ focus on undergraduate teaching and to increase the number of students  attending institutions that focus on undergraduate education, without diminishing Ontario’s ability to attract and retain university researchers of the highest calibre. The authors develop a model for teaching-oriented undergraduate institutions that would complement traditional research universities. They present options for provincial funding and regulation to encourage the creation of such institutions while supporting high-quality undergraduate teaching at existing universities.

ThreAuthors425Authors’ websites

Ian Clark    David Trick   Richard Van Loon

Book excerpts and spreadsheet

Table of Contents


The Courage to Begin

The Case for New Undergraduate Institutions (excerpts published in University Affairs)

Pro Forma Financial Projections for New University (downloadable Excel spreadsheet)

How to order

McGill-Queen’s University Press                 Chapters-Indigo

In praise of Academic Reform

“At the heart of this splendid book is the conviction that undergraduate teaching and learning is the core of the contract between universities and society, but that the prevailing model of undergraduate education is no longer sustainable and the time for action is urgently now. Books on academic reform are generally long on diagnosis and short on prescription. Not this one. Academic Reform: Policy Options for Improving the Quality and Cost-effectiveness of Undergraduate Education in Ontario is well titled, for it builds both a case and a framework for action by government and universities on a compelling scholarly analysis of the factors and forces affecting higher education at home and abroad. In doing so, the authors draw upon their impressive academic and public-service experience, exhibiting throughout a passionate commitment to higher education. All of us who care about higher education are greatly in their debt. The best way to show it would be to engage with the challenge they set out.”

James Downey, former President of Carleton University,
University of New Brunswick and University of Waterloo,
and President of the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario


“Having spent much of my career advancing innovations, I’ve developed a familiarity with the difficulties of calling for change. Needed change is often delayed by resistive forces that probably, in general, protect us. But occasionally, an insightful few perceive an impending situation in which failure to change will be disastrous. And yet, the disaster often occurs despite the warning. In other cases, the predictions are heard with sufficient clarity and intensity that we do avoid harm and embark on a better course. Often, the difference between such success and failure lies in the quality of communication. Academic Reform: Policy Options for Improving the Quality and Cost-effectiveness of Undergraduate Education in Ontario is written with crystal clarity, catches one’s attention, and presents a powerful, compelling analysis of changes that are inevitable in Ontario and indeed throughout Canada and much of the world. I hope and believe that this solid, inspiring work will play a key role in advancing the long overdue improvements it so insightfully describes.”

Lorne Whitehead, inventor, entrepreneur,
UBC Professor and former Provost
Presentations and articles

Richard Van Loon comments on Ontario’s PSE Transformation consultation paper, CBO Morning, 29 June 2012

David Trick on The Agenda with Steve Paikin: Universities – Bang for Our Buck? April 25, 2012

Expanding graduate programs and renewing the professoriate: What’s the connection? Ian D. Clark, David Trick and Richard Van Loon, Academic Matters, March 22, 2012

Comment by David Trick on “Ontario doesn’t need three new campuses” by George Fallis, Toronto Star, March 5, 2012

Teaching-only universities would cut education costs, author says, Louise Brown, Toronto Star, February 7, 2012

Michael Enright of CBC’s Sunday Edition talks with Academic Reform authors, February 18, 2012 [Minutes 31:36 to 44:30 in Hour 2]

Author calls for academic reform, Stephanie Lowe, Ryersonian, February 15, 2012

“They say high school; we say Mount A” CBC Ottawa interview of Richard Van Loon and Mark Langer on undergraduate universities, February 10, 2012

Establishing New Undergraduate Universities, Ian Clark and David Trick at OISE|U of T Symposium on Three New Campuses for Ontario, February 7, 2012

How much is too much research on pedagogy? Alan Slavin with Comment by Ian Clark, University Affairs, January 25 and 29, 2012

Clark presentation at Alberta-BC New Universities Program, January 16, 2012

Academic reform: tread carefully, Peter Ricketts with Comments by Ian Clark and Richard Van Loon, University Affairs, January 9 and 12, 2012

University differentiation should not mean ‘two-tiered,’ Maureen Mancuso with Comment by Ian Clark, University Affairs, December 5 and 13, 2011

Where Ontario’s next university must be built, Josh Dehaas, Maclean’s On Campus, November 23, 2011

Improving undergraduate education in Canada – the good and not so good news, Ian Clark, The University Commons (AUCC), November 21, 2011

No quick fix for universities, Constance Adamson, president of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations, Toronto Star, November 14, 2011

What can fiscally constrained governments do to improve undergraduate education? Ian Clark, Mowat Opinions, November 11, 2011

A new book argues for substantial reform to Ontario’s higher-education system, including the introduction of a rare breed of institution in Canada: the teaching-oriented university. University Affairs, November 7, 2011

Academic Reform Slides for Shifting Gears Symposium, Ian Clark, November 7, 2011

It’s time to build better bridges between colleges and universities, Richard Van Loon, Ottawa Citizen, November 4, 2011

Students report on spending at Ontario’s universities, urge quality improvements, Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance, November 2, 2011

Funding Ontario Universities: What Role Should Students Play, Ian Clark, David Trick, Richard Van Loon, The Blue and White, November 1, 2011

Universities get an F for failing undergraduates, Jeffrey Simpson, Globe and Mail, October 21, 2011

The Diminishing Quality of Ontario’s Universities: Can the System be Fixed? Harvey Weingarten, HEQCO, October 18, 2011

Academic Reform slides for Laurier RE-imagine Universities Conference, Ian Clark, October 20, 2011

New universities for Ontario, David Trick, Toronto Star, October 15, 2011

What have our students learned? It’s time to measure. Harvey Weingarten, University Affairs, October 11, 2011

Canadian universities must reform or perish, Globe and Mail, October 11, 2011

The case for major system reform in Ontario, Ian D. Clark, David Trick and Richard Van Loon, Blue and White, February 9, 2011

Page created by: Ian Clark, last modified 13 January 2016.