In three of the four postsecondary performance domains examined for HEQCO’s first annual performance indicator report, Ontario fares reasonably well. Comparatively, the system is efficient and productive. Its considerable investments in creating an accessible system places Ontario at the forefront of Canada and among world leaders in enrolment and attainment. Educated Ontarians (and their fellow Canadians) are more likely to be civically engaged and satisfied with their lives than citizens of other OECD nations. It’s largely a good news story, but one that demands a new headline: It’s time to focus on quality. And therein lies the caveat for this report and the challenge ahead for higher education systems in search of definitive quality measures.
Measuring performance in postsecondary education is a confounding endeavour. While opinions and anecdotes abound, strong and relevant measures elude, especially in the domain of quality.
Attempts to define and measure system quality have an honourable lineage. Early efforts focussed on inputs like funding per student (the more the better) and student-faculty ratios (the lower the better). But critics correctly noted that these really only measure the efficiency of the system, and not whether any results or outcomes have been achieved.
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