Higher Education Strategy Associates

Our People

Alex Usher – President

Alex Usher is the President of Higher Education Strategy Associates and Editor-in-Chief of Global Higher Education Strategy Monitor. An internationally recognized expert in student financial aid and quality measurement in post-secondary education, Mr. Usher has authored numerous ground-breaking studies in higher education. In addition to his years of work on higher education in Canada, his recent work spans Asia, Europe and Africa as well.

In his former role as Director of Educational Policy Institute Canada (EPI Canada), Mr. Usher managed the Measuring the Effectiveness of Student Aid Project for the Millennium Scholarship Foundation, a 4-year $4 million research project to investigate the long-term effects of student aid and is the author of the project’s Final Report, appearing in early 2010. In 2002 and 2004, Mr. Usher co-authored (with Sean Junor) the Price of Knowledge, a volume considered the standard reference on student finance in Canada. More recently, he has written the theme document for UNESCO Europe’s decennial meeting on higher education, Ten Years Back and Ten Years Forward: Developments and Trends in Higher Education in Europe Region. He sits on a variety of advisory, supervisory and editorial boards in Canada, Europe and Asia.

Prior to joining the Educational Policy Institute in 2003 and founding the Higher Education Strategy Associates Mr. Usher served as the Director of Research and Program Development at the Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation. From 1996 to 1998, Mr. Usher served as a researcher and lobbyist for the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada and before that was the first national director of the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations. He holds degrees from McGill University and Carleton University.


Glen Fisher – Consultant

Glen is an experienced senior executive, education policy analyst and researcher. As a consultant with Higher Education Strategy Associates (HESA) he is currently engaged with program prioritization and strategic enrolment management initiatives at Nipissing University and Loyalist College.

Prior to coming to Canada Glen was Education and Skills Director at the National Business Initiative (NBI) in South Africa, a business-based non-profit organization based in Johannesburg. Reporting to the Board and CEO, he led the development of the Joint Initiative on Priority Skills Acquisition (JIPSA), a national skills initiative housed in the office of South Africa’s Deputy President, and a precursor to the National Human Resources Development Council. He was also responsible for establishing and leading the Colleges Collaboration Fund, a five-year, R80m development program aimed at assisting government with the restructuring and modernization of the entire national  system of 50 Further Education and Training Colleges.

Prior to joining the NBI, Glen was Acting Director and a Senior Researcher at the Education Policy Unit at the University of the Western Cape.

In the run-up to the democratic transition from apartheid, Glen was appointed as principal researcher with the National Education Policy Investigation (NEPI), and subsequently served as a senior researcher on the National Commission for Higher Education, appointed by President Mandela to make recommendations on the shaping of a single, post-apartheid higher education system. He was subsequently appointed to a Ministerial Committee on Further Education, and was closely involved in the drafting of government’s Green and White Papers on Further Education and Training. He currently serves as an adviser to the South African Department of Higher Education and Training.

Glen served two terms as a Ministerial appointee to the governing Council of the Vaal Triangle Technikon (a polytechnic institution) including a term as Chair of Council.

In 1993-4 he was a Hubert H. Humphrey Fellow at The Pennsylvania State University in the United States, and spent a period as a visiting professor at New York University.


Paul A. Jarvey – Manager, Research & Evaluation

Mr. Jarvey has worked in the higher education sector for the past five years, during which time he has contributed dozens of innovative and high-profile research projects with a wide range of institutions, agencies, and governments in Canada and worldwide. Mr. Jarvey has authored several novel studies in higher education measurement and analysis, including a detailed analysis of Canadian academic publishing cultures. While his main expertise in in the management of medium-scale institutional analyses, Mr. Jarvey is also experienced in key performance indicators and benchmarking activities, financial modelling and analysis, strategic planning, and related policy analysis.

Most recently, Mr. Jarvey played a key role in a strategic program prioritization exercise at Nipissing University. In addition to leading the data analysis, Mr. Jarvey assisted with the development and delivery of a community consultation process, on-site interviews, and a set of reporting tools to communicate the results. He also led the Student Experiences of Credit Recognition and Transfer study, which explored student pathways at Ontario colleges using a mixed methodology that included over 200 key informant interviews and a contextualized analysis at each of the 23 colleges participating in the study. Most recently, he led a large-scale policy research project probing the potential impact of proposed changes to the student financial aid delivery model on student behaviour for the Ontario Ministry for Training, Colleges and Universities.

Mr. Jarvey manages the development of the HiBAR database of normalized publication records, and has used this data alongside linked datasets to assess over 500 academic departments across Canada. Mr. Jarvey has the lead author, with Alex Usher and Lori McElroy, of a study on a detailed analysis of Canadian academic publishing cultures, Making Research Count: Analyzing Canadian Academic Publishing Cultures. Toronto: Higher Education Strategy Associates, 2012.

Prior to joining HESA, Paul worked in the Privy Council Office as a Junior Research Analyst, where his primary responsibility was the preparation of policy briefs on the Provincial implications of Cabinet Sub-Committee items. Paul Jarvey holds an M.A. from the University of Toronto in Economics.


Mark Tagliaferri – Manager, Research & Communications

Mr. Tagliaferri specializes in qualitative research design methods, analysis, and report writing.  Mr. Tagliaferri has recently led large-scale mixed-methods research projects on behalf of numerous Canadian institutions, as well as the Government of Canada, the provinces of Ontario, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Nova Scotia, and the state of California.  Mr. Tagliaferri’s expertise primarily involves issues of access, both cultural and structural, with a particular interest in the constraints and impediments faced by minority populations.

Currently, Mr. Tagliaferri is managing the Student Decisions Project – a groundbreaking national longitudinal study of 300 Canadian Grade 12 students, using multiple qualitative surveys over eight months to examine how students make decisions on where to attend post-secondary education.  In addition, Mr. Tagliaferri is leading two multi-jurisdictional, national studies: the first involves quantitative and qualitative research into the financial aid experiences and needs of more than 10,000 Canadian mature learners; the second project is a mixed-methods study designed to better understand how students use information to make education and career decisions.  Recently, Mr. Tagliaferri completed studies on behalf of the Government of Canada, conducting a comprehensive literature review of non-traditional learning models, and for OCAD University, where he completed cultural and economic impact analyses, as well as  primary market enrolment research.

Prior to joining HESA, Mr. Tagliaferri served as a Doctoral Teaching Fellow at Hunter College, New York City, and as a Graduate Research Fellow at Queens College, in Flushing, New York.  Mr. Tagliaferri has also conducted policy research on behalf of the Seobu Office of Education (Incheon, South Korea), researching and developing policy proposals concerning South Korea’s English education curriculum.