Reality Check: Without good data, you can’t have good policy

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One of the many casualties of the recent federal budget is the University and College Academic Staff System (UCASS). This Statistics Canada survey was an annual census of full-time faculty in Canadian universities, and an invaluable source of information for the postsecondary sector. Due to cuts, the August 2011 data will be the final UCASS release.  Without detailed information on faculty and academic staff, governments, the public and the higher education research community will have little understanding of who is actually educating students at Ontario and Canada’s universities.
Even before these cuts, Canada lagged behind many other countries in the information collected on post-secondary education. One glaring example is the total lack of any data on the large number of sessional faculty who teach on short term contracts.
The OECD has previously written to Statistics Canada encouraging the agency to broader their data collection to make it more comparable to others in the OECD community.  Now, we can only fall further behind. At a time of change and uncertainty in higher education, cutting UCASS will hurt our collective ability to make good policy.

This article originally appeared in the OCUFA Report. To receive stories like this every week in your inbox, please subscribe.

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