Universities in Canada face deep financial challenges, most recently put in the spotlight by the federal government’s announcement of a cap on international students. These issues raise key questions not only about how governments are interested in universities, but also what university education is for.

Today in The Conversation Canada, Thomas Klassen of York University writes about how universities, governments and employers need to revisit their expectations of the purpose of an undergraduate degree, and its value in a person’s life.

“As governments link university funding to labour market outcomes using various performance measures, universities are in danger of becoming job preparation academies,” he writes.

“The increasing focus on training undergraduates for specific jobs or as economic entrepreneurs — not only in traditional professional degrees in STEM … but across all university programs — shortchanges all parties involved.”

Also today:

All the best, 

Susannah Schmidt

Education + Arts Editor

An increasing focus on training undergraduates for the labour market shortchanges students. Students and attendees seen at a job fair in Atlanta, March 29, 2023. (AP Photo/Alex Sliz)

Does a university undergraduate degree lead to a ‘good job?’ It depends what you mean

Thomas Klassen, York University, Canada

Students should know that a key part of the value of their undergraduate degree lies in taking advantage of all the opportunities for learning that universities offer.

Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau dances with convention delegates at the 1982 Liberal Convention in Ottawa. Two years later, he would take a walk in the snow and decide to resign. (CP PHOTO/Chuck Mitchell)

40 years after his famous walk in the snow, a look back at Pierre Trudeau’s resignation

Raymond B. Blake, University of Regina

As Prime Minister Justin Trudeau faces questions about his own political future, it’s worth remembering his father’s famous walk in the snow 40 years ago — and what fuelled his decision to quit.

Afzaal family member Tabinda Bukhari speaks to the media after the sentencing of Nathaniel Veltman in London, Ont., Feb. 22, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nicole Osborne

Sentencing of Afzaal family’s killer provides a legal roadmap for first-degree murder constituting terrorism

Jack L. Rozdilsky, York University, Canada

The trial of Nathaniel Veltman, who was found guilty of four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder, will set precedents for how future terrorism charges are laid.

Impact of race and culture assessment reports (IRCAs) are meant to give judges context with the aim of ultimately creating a more equitable and fair criminal justice system. (Shutterstock)

Do pre-sentencing reports really help Black offenders in Canada’s justice system?

Camisha Sibblis, University of Windsor

Until the justice system reckons with its systemic racism, pre-sentencing reports will fail to shift the way the courts see Black offenders.

Former U.S. president Donald Trump points up during a Fox News Channel town hall on Feb. 20, 2024, in Greenville, S.C. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

What does Donald Trump’s NATO posturing mean for Canada?

Paul T. Mitchell, Canadian Forces College

Canada relies on established norms, rules and institutions to make the world stable. These concepts would be a great risk if Donald Trump made good on threats to disregard NATO.

Extremophile bacteria (yellow) can be seen in Yellowstone Park’s Octopus Spring. (C. M. Helm-Clark/Wikimedia Commons)

Extreme environments are coded into the genomes of the organisms that live there

Kathleen A. Hill, Western University; Lila Kari, University of Waterloo

Computer analysis of the genomes of extremophiles — organisms that live in extreme environments — reveals that their living conditions are recorded in their DNA.

Cattle walk along an illegally deforested area in an extractive reserve near Jaci-Parana, Rondonia state, Brazil. Deforestation is a global problem and while it has varied causes the trade in illegal timber is a major factor. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)

How advanced genetic testing can be used to combat the illegal timber trade

Melanie Zacharias, Université Laval

Effective use of genomic identification could revolutionize the control of the illegal timber trade.

La Conversation Canada

La plupart des gens ne consomment que la moitié de la quantité de fibres alimentaires recommandée, ce qui peut avoir un effet négatif sur leur santé. (Shutterstock)

Les fibres alimentaires n’agissent pas seulement sur le côlon – le système immunitaire, le cerveau et la santé globale en bénéficient également

Mark Wulczynski, McMaster University

Les fibres ne sont pas seulement associées à la santé du côlon ; elles influencent aussi la santé globale et la santé du cerveau par l’axe intestin-cerveau. Mais toutes les fibres ne se valent pas.


Culture + Society