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The Demise of Universality: Federal Financing for Post-Secondary Education in Canada

[journal article]

Weaver, Paul

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Abstract This paper has two central objectives. Generally, its purpose is to trace the trajectory of the fiscal relationships that exist between Canada’s two orders of government. In particular, the main focus is on the linkages financing post-secondary education. Towards that end, the paper is structured on a broad canvas in the following manner. First, the concept of federalism is examined, which establishes the theoretical context underpinning the intergovernmental relationships in Canada. Next, the different types of transfers between the federal and provincial government that finance post-secondary education are investigated arguing that the imprecision of these arrangements obscures lines of accountability for post-secondary education as outlined in the constitution. And third, the implications of these arrangements for the provision of educational services are traced in order to suggest that recent developments in the funding regimes are the product of changing federal policy preferences that favour economic efficiency over social cohesion. Overall then, this paper suggests that although post-secondary education is an area of provincial jurisdiction, the fiscal arrangements that finance this area of social policy have altered the nature of its delivery. As such, recent changes to the fundingregimes represent a shift in policy orientation from one previously based on a pan-Canadian universality to a policy more oriented towards individuals and their ability. (author's abstract)
Keywords Canada; federalism; political system; public expenditures; public budget; public investment; education system; educational policy; educational opportunity; participation in education; university level of education; funding; tuition fee
Classification Macroanalysis of the Education System, Economics of Education, Educational Policy
Document language English
Publication Year 2007
Page/Pages p. 1-21
Journal Federal Governance, 4 (2007) 1
ISSN 1923-6158
Status Published Version; peer reviewed
Licence Basic Digital Peer Publishing Licence