More students are attending university than ever before, a fact that puts Canada at the top of the world's most educated countries. But what students are finding are overcrowded classrooms and outmoded teaching methods. And when they leave university, they are likely saddled with debt. It's time to rethink higher education.
Shows the challenges facing postsecondary education and feature the voices of innovators who are trying to come up with solutions.
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The case for change: Canadian universities are underfunded, strained to capacity and turning out mediocre students who aren't finding jobs in their chosen fields. The university model hasn't really changed since the 14th century, when the lecturer-in-the-crowded-hall format first emerged. It needs to, desperately. Reporter Erin Anderssen examines in the cracks in the system that have become fissures – and the changes on the horizon.
The online tsunami: Is digital teaching the way of the future? What we know about how universities are using the Web to reach out to students -- what's succeeding, what isn't.
Dealing with the student debtload. As protests in Quebec showed, students are incensed at the cost of education. Many U.S. institutions are coming up with innovative ways to help with the debt load, from towns that pay university tuition for any graduating high-school student, to universities that will subsidize education for students willing to provide a 'share option' in their future earnings. But are such solutions viable options to the long-term funding crunch, particularly as universities struggle with soaring costs?
In the U.S., in particular, there's growing talk of the need for a core curriculum -- who's proposing what? Bradshaw takes stock of the common curriculum initiative, with a sidebar on the push for measurable outcomes. Bradshaw
Among developed countries, Canada is unique in its failure to develop a national approach to universities and colleges, one that would require institutions to release clear statistics on retention and graduation rates, set national objectives and credit transfer arrangements to give students more mobility and study options, and create an accreditation system that encourages universities to develop different missions. A good start would be to integrate college and university learning as Carleton University is trying to do.