Higher Education Strategy Associates


Higher Education Strategy Associates (HESA) provides strategic insight and guidance to governments, post-secondary institutions, and agencies through excellence and expertise in policy analysis, monitoring and evaluation, and strategic consulting services. Through these activities HESA strives to improve the quality, efficacy, and fairness of higher education systems in Canada and worldwide.

HESA is dedicated to providing institutions, governments, and related agencies with strategic advice and research pertaining to a range of higher education issues, including improving quality, strategy, efficiency, and program planning. Based out of Toronto, Canada, and beginning operation in September of 2009, HESA is led by President Alex Usher, who is the company’s sole owner and officer. Prior to its inception, HESA staff operated EPI Canada, which was created in 2004 as the Canadian arm of the Educational Policy Institute, with Alex Usher as Director.

HESA has a wealth of experience collecting both qualitative and quantitative information from institution staff, employers, government officials, and post-secondary students, using a variety of data collection tools.  Survey design, administration, and analysis is one of the centerpieces of HESA, and has allowed us to become the country’s most comprehensive surveyor of the university experience.  We also have considerable experience using data from Statistics Canada, such as the Labour Force Survey, the Survey of Labour, and Income Dynamics, and the Canadian Census. We have experience working with a broad range of stakeholders, including governments (at the federal and provincial levels), secondary and post-secondary educational institutions, elementary and secondary school boards, student groups, non-profit and non-governmental organizations, and other stakeholders in the education and public policy arena, in Canada and internationally.

As our names implies, HESA focuses on providing strategic advice and research to higher education clients. We have an in-depth knowledge of the postsecondary sector in Ontario, Canada, and internationally. We understand the themes, opportunities, and challenges that are emerging in this sector and have considerable experience conducting research in the postsecondary field.  HESA President, Alex Usher, is an expert on higher education, both in Canada and around the world. He has extensive experience in higher education policy and issues, and is internationally recognized as an expert on post-secondary education policy. Mr. Usher is routinely sought out by the World Bank, UNESCO, and the European Union for his expertise, and is frequently invited to be a keynote speaker at various events hosted by higher education institutions and organizations, both in Canada and internationally – including recent guest speaker invitations for meetings of the Bologna researchers, the European University Association (EUA), and the European Commission (EC). In his internationally-read blog, One Thought to Start Your Day, Mr. Usher provides daily reflections on issues, trends, and data on higher education.

In addition, HESA staff are members of numerous Academic and Professional Associations, such as the Canadian Association of Student Financial Aid Advisors (CASFAA), Canadian Institutional Research and Planning Association (CIRPA), the Association for Institutional Research (AIR), Statistics Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Education Statistics, Statistics Canada Postsecondary Student Information System (PSIS) Working Group, the International Rankings Expert Group, and the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) Advisory Board.