CGHE Seminar 19

Higher education in colleges: why isn’t there more of it?

  • Leesa Wheelahan, University of Toronto

This presentation will explore the blurring of the sectoral divide between colleges and universities in anglophone countries such as Australia, England, Canada and the United States.

Colleges in these countries now offer baccalaureate degrees and other provision normally associated with universities. The rationale for this provision is that it can: expand access to higher education for disadvantaged students; result in HE aligned with the needs of the workplace; and, be cheaper for governments and individuals compared to university provision.

Many of us researching college HE thought that it would grow quickly and become a principal means to support the expansion of HE. However, while important, college HE hasn’t grown as fast as we expected. The paper explores two limitations on the growth of college HE: first, government ambivalence and intermittent aspirations for differentiation; and second, government marketisation policies that compel colleges to offer provision normally associated with universities, but in a market where colleges are placed at the bottom of a more stratified and hierarchical system so that they face obstacles in expanding this provision.

This presentation will discuss the challenges that colleges face in offering HE, the new tertiary education sector that is emerging through the blurring of the sectoral divide, and the types of opportunities it offers students.

Download the presentation

Leesa Wheelahan

Leesa Wheelahan

Leesa Wheelahan is currently the William G. Davis Chair in Community College Leadership and associate professor at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto. She was previously an associate professor in adult and vocational education at the University of Melbourne. She has published widely on the relationship between the vocational education and training and higher education sectors, lifelong learning, tertiary education policy, student equity, and the role of theoretical knowledge in curriculum. She is coordinating a PhD programme for community college leaders in Ontario.

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