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From the subtitle ("100 startling things you don't know...") I was expecting more of a telltale/gossipy book where campus insiders could air their dirty laundry and let the general public & policy makers know what's actually happening on campus and what needs reforming. Given the paucity of hard-hitting books focusing on the Canadian university scene we need this, notwithstanding "Ivory Tower Blues" by Côté and Allahar. There's lots of books of this type for American universities so why not one (or several) for Canada? Well, we do get some dirty laundry, along with the authors' view on what needs changing, but the material presented is very uneven - sometimes solidly argued, often contradictory and sometimes just mere opinion.
Overall, this book is basically a grab-bag of arguments covering different aspects of the modern Canadian university. A few themes, however, do emerge: (1) we have far too many unqualified students attending university and standards are dropping all the time in order to get bums in seats. For a deeper analysis of this problem see Côté and Allahar's book. (2) Basic competencies in reading, writing and thinking are in very short supply along with someone defining what a core curriculum is, especially in the Faculty of Arts. Someone needs to address this so that employers will know what kinds of skills they can expect from graduates. (3) There's a serious question as to whether all that research money in universities drive significant innovation in the wider Canadian economy. They give some evidence that not much national wealth creation comes from all this spending. (4) We should stop pretending all universities are excellent (whatever that means) and allow different universities to focus on different aspects of the market as happens in the U.S.Read more ›
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