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Lederman, D. (2009) Catching Up to Canada Inside Higher Education, November 6

An interesting article discussing the different participation and graduation rates between Canada and the USA. Don’t be fooled by the article’s title; it is much more complicated than the US catching up.

One factor that wasn’t discussed which is probably significant is the difference in size. At 34 million population, Canada is just about the size of California. Given the extremely wide variations between different states in the USA, would it not be more valid to compare Canada as a whole – or even better, Canadian provinces – with similar sized states in the USA? Even more importantly, should we (or more accurately the OECD) stop doing these international comparative rankings? Systems are so different that it’s like comparing apples with oranges – see:

Adelman, C. (2009) The Spaces Between Numbers: Getting International Data on Higher Education Straight Washington DC: The Institute for Higher Education Policy.

What is more useful, as this article does, is to discuss the variables that affect ‘performance’ of systems, and see whether public policy can address the issues raised.


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