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, policy analyst and researcher, whose work in his native country, South Africa, has included substantial contributions to the development and implementation of national policy and the establishment of high-level, strategic partnerships between business, government, and the education and training sector. Since joining HESA in January 2014 Glen has worked with a cross-section of Canadian universities and colleges on academic planning, enrolment management and other strategic initiatives. He also serves as an adviser on skills planning to the Department of Higher Education and Training in South Africa, and as research manager for a European Union-South Africa Skills Planning Dialogue.

Prior to his arrival in Canada, Glen served for thirteen years as Director for Education and Skills at the National Business Initiative (NBI), a non-profit, business-based organization with over 140 corporate members. During this time Glen was responsible for the design and implementation of the Joint Initiative on Priority Skills Acquisition (JIPSA), precursor to the National Human Resources Development Council. Chaired by the country’s Deputy President, and charged with expediting the acquisition of skills required by South Africa’s Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative (ASGISA), the JIPSA Joint Task Team included Members of Cabinet, corporate CEOs, university vice-chancellors, and other leaders and stakeholders.

During his time at the NBI, Glen was also responsible for establishing and leading the business-funded Colleges Collaboration Fund (CCF), a five-year, R80m partnership with government and international agencies including the British Council, the UK Association of Colleges, and the Australian National Training Authority. The CCF was aimed at supporting the restructuring and modernization of the South African Further Education and Training Colleges sector, through research and data collection, training and capacity building, and technical assistance to government departments and colleges.

Over the course of a long career, Glen has been a high school principal, project leader at Khanya College, principal researcher with the National Education Policy Investigation and the National Commission on Higher Education, and Acting Director of the Education Policy Unit at the University of the Western Cape. He was a member of a Ministerial Committee on Further Education, and was closely involved in the drafting of the democratic government’s first Green and White Papers on Further 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 Glen was a Hubert H. Humphrey Fellow at the Center for the Study of Higher Education at The Pennsylvania State University in the United States, and 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  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.


Jacqueline M. Lambert – Manager of Data and Policy Research

Ms. Lambert coordinates HESA’s student financial aid reform advisory work with provincial governments and Employment and Skills Development Canada, as well as post-secondary institutions. Her most recent projects in this portfolio include a review of need assessment methodology for the Canada Student Loans Program, as well as one of Canada’s most comprehensive multi-cohort comparisons of graduate outcomes using Statistics Canada’s National Graduates Survey results. Her work on Canadian student financial aid policy has been featured in a variety of publications across Canada, and she has presented to audiences across North America. In the summer of 2014, she co-authored The Many Prices of Knowledge, a comprehensive comparison of net tuition across Canada. Ms. Lambert has also lent her expertise in higher education administrative data analysis to a variety of institutional projects, including program prioritization and strategic enrolment management exercises for Bishop’s University and Nipissing University.

One of Ms. Lambert’s practice areas at HESA is research and analysis of student experience issues using large-scale survey data. In particular, she has been responsible for producing a wide variety of data products from two major student satisfaction surveys, the Globe and Mail Canadian University Report, and HESA’s Canadian Student Satisfaction Survey. She has also been responsible for managing HESA’s MyCanEd student survey panel, which polled Canadian university students and recent graduates on a variety of issues related to campus and classroom life. She has co-authored three reports based on the analysis of these surveys.

Ms. Lambert holds a degree from the University of Waterloo and is currently pursuing a Certified Market Research Professional designation. Ms. Lambert is also active in professional organizations such as the Canadian Institutional Research Professional Association and the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association.


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 (SDP): a national longitudinal study of 200 Canadian Grade 12 students. Using a series of four qualitative surveys, over ten months, SDP examines how students make decisions on where to attend post-secondary education.  At the same time, Mr. Tagliaferri is leading a multi-jurisdictional, national study into the financial aid experiences and needs of more than 10,000 Canadian mature learners, and is also currently managing the Prospective Arts Students Survey (PASS), a national study of 400 Grade 11/12 students, exploring perceptions of Arts education in Canada.

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 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.

Rebecca K. Metcalfe – Research Analyst

Rebecca Metcalfe is a Research Analyst at HESA, specializing in design of research methodology, and data analysis. Ms. Metcalfe holds a Masters of Arts, from Ryerson University in Clinical Psychology, and an Honours Bachelor of Arts from McGill University. Ms. Metcalfe is professionally trained in qualitative and quantitative research methods, psychometrics, standardized and unstandardized assessment, and analysis of patterns of individual behaviour.

Ms. Metcalfe has particular expertise in the development of research instruments, and analysis of complex datasets, and coordinates data collection, management, and analysis of several large-scale studies. At HESA, Ms. Metcalfe has been extensively involved in two national studies. The first—the Student Decisions Project—uses a qualitative longitudinal approach to examining how students make decisions on where to attend post-secondary education. The second study, conducted on the Government of Canada, assesses the Financial Needs of Mature Learners. The project includes large quantitative analysis of the experiences of, and the barriers and obstacles faced by mature students, as well as a series of 500 in-depth qualitative interviews.

Prior to joining HESA, Ms. Metcalfe conducted multi-method psychophysiological research with clinical populations. This work has been presented at international conferences, and published in peer-reviewed journals.

Lea O. Costi – Research Analyst

Lea Costi is a Research Analyst at Higher Education Strategy Associates. Ms. Costi’s primary responsibilities include research, data collection and analysis, key informant interviews, as well as report writing.

Currently, Ms. Costi is working on a 2015 update of HESA’s notable Global Higher Education Rankings, which will analyze the affordability and accessibility of higher education systems in over 20 countries around the world. This publication, updated every five years, continues to be widely used by scholars as a source for data and statistics related to global higher education. Ms. Costi’s current projects also include a review of Professional Master’s Programs offered under Arts faculties at universities across Canada, with a particular emphasis on the province of Ontario, and the programs’ relation to in-demand jobs. In addition, Ms. Costi is creating an index of tuition per program at colleges across Canada, which will serve as the first comprehensive resource of its kind. Previous, Ms. Costi conducted research on non-traditional learning models on behalf of the Government of Canada’s Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), where she completed a comprehensive review of statistical trends in online-learning delivery models, and their relation to Student Financial Assistance frameworks.

Ms. Costi earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from McGill University, with a major in Political Science and a minor in Hispanic languages.