Higher Education Strategy Associates

March 14

Canadian Higher Ed Exceptionalism, Part 1 (An Occasional Series)

For awhile now, I’ve been writing about other national systems of higher education in our, “Better Know a Higher Ed System” series, in part to throw Canada’s own policy system into sharp relief. But sometimes it’s better to look at some things a bit more directly, so today I want to start exploring some areas where Canada really is an exception, globally.  And there’s nowhere we stick out more than in the way we admit students to university.

There are a limited number of ways to admit people to universities.  One of the most common is simply to use the scores from a common secondary matriculation exam as the basis for admission decisions.  Most of la Francophonie works this way, since they’ve all modelled themselves on France’s Baccalaureate.

Another option is to have a national university entrance exam, separate from matriculation.  The most famous of these is China’s gaokao, which draws on a millennia-long Chinese tradition, but which is in fact only 35 years old, and a product of Deng Xiaoping’s post-Mao reforms.  National exams are often a response to widespread cheating and corruption in schools.  In 2004, Russia introduced a new national exam with heavy security measures specifically to try to weed out academic corruption (it was only partially successful – since getting into university is a way for Russian males to avoid the draft, the impetus for academic corruption is pretty powerful).

In some places, individual universities have their own entrance exam, though these tend to exist only where a national exam is already in place.  Japan and Romania are two examples of this: in both countries, the more “elite” universities (e.g. Tokyo, Kyoto, Politehnica, Bucharest) have chosen to ditch the national exams and establish their own, for reasons of prestige, if nothing else.  And then, finally, you have the American options – not a university entrance exam but a national aptitude test, such as the SAT or the ACT.

So, now imagine trying to explain to foreigners how students get accepted to university in Canada.  Only Alberta, with its matriculation exams, has anything like the kind of standardized testing seen almost everywhere else in the world. In the rest of the country, you’re admitted entirely on the basis of grades based on high school marks predicated, to a considerable extent, on work portfolios rather than exams, and where grading standards between schools are only loosely consistent.  To the extent that there is fairness at all, it comes through the informal judgement of hundreds of admissions officers who, through simple experience, “know” which schools are easy graders, and take this into consideration when awarding places.

From the perspective of most other countries, the Canadian approach looks like sheer lunacy.  The scope for corruption in our system is enormous, but it’s simply not an issue here.  Everyone accepts the professional judgement of admissions officers and there are few complaints.  Such deep trust in the system is what has spared this country (outside Alberta, anyway) the kind of high-stakes exam nightmare that Americans endure.

In short, one thing that makes Canadian higher education exceptional is trust. That’s great, but trust is fragile.  It’s not something we should take for granted.

March 13

Teaching Loads, Fairness, and Productivity

It’s been a long time since I’ve been as disappointed by an article on higher education as I was by the Star’s coverage of the release of the new HEQCO paper on teaching and research productivity.  A really long time.

If you haven’t read the HEQCO paper yet, do so.  It’s great.  Using departmental websites, the authors (Linda Joncker and Martin Hicks) got a list of people teaching in Economics, Chemistry, and Philosophy at ten Ontario universities.  From course calendars, Google scholar, and tri-council grant databases, they were able to work out each professor’s course load, and whether or not they were “research active” (i.e. whether they had either published something or received a tri-council grant in the past three years).  On the basis of this, they could work out the teaching loads of profs who were research-active vs. those who were not (except in Philosophy, where they reckoned they couldn’t publish the data because there simply weren’t that many profs who met their definition of being research-active).  Here’s what they found:

Annual Course Load by Research Active Status














To be clear, one course here is actually a half course.  So the finding that “non-research-active” professors teach less than one course extra means that there are, in fact, a heck of a lot of non-research-active profs who teach no extra courses, and who teach exactly the same amount as professors who are research active.

For reasons of fairness as much as  productivity, this seems like a result worth discussing, no?  And yet – here’s where the disappointment comes in – that doesn’t appear to be where the main actors in this little drama want to go with the story.  Rather, they appear to want to make irrelevant asides about the study itself.

Now I say “appear” because it’s possible they have more nuanced views on the subject, and the Star just turned the story into a he-said/she-said.  I want to give them the benefit of the doubt, because the objections printed by the Star are frankly ludicrous.  They amount to the following:

1)      Teaching involves more than classroom time, it’s preparation, grading, etc.  True, but so what?  The question is whether profs who don’t produce research should be asked to teach more.  The question of what “teaching” consists of is irrelevant.

2)      Number of courses taught is irrelevant – what matters is the number of students taught.  This is a slightly better argument, though I think most profs would say that the number of courses is a bigger factor in workload than the number of students (4 classes of 30 students is significantly harder than 3 of 40).  But for this to be a relevant argument, you’d need to prove that the profs without a research profile were actually teaching systematically larger classes than their research-active counterparts.  There’s no evidence either way on this point, though I personally would lay money against it.

Here’s the deal: you can quibble with the HEQCO data, but it needs to be acknowledged: i) that data could be better, but that it is institutions themselves who hold the data and are preventing this question from being examined in greater depth; and, ii) that this is the one of the best studies ever conducted on this topic in Canada.  Kvetching about definitions is only acceptable from those actively working to improve the data and make it public.  Anyone who’s kvetching, and not doing that, quite frankly deserves to be richly ignored.

March 12

The Skills “Crisis”: Why Good People Can’t Get Jobs

There’s a very slim volume out from Wharton Press called, Why Good People Can’t Get Jobs.  It’s by Peter Cappelli, a management professor from the University of Pennsylvania, who adapted the book from a series of articles he wrote for the Wall Street Journal in 2010 and 2011.  Not all of it applies to Canada (it’s a very US-focussed book), but enough of it does that I think it’s worth a read for everyone with an interest in the skills debate.

The book takes a simple “myth-busting” approach to the skills debate, much of which would be familiar to those of you who read this blog regularly (notably, with respect to how skills shortages are defined, and whether or not employers have considered the simple approach of “raising wages” as a way to solve said shortages).  But Cappelli makes three additional specific points that I think need to be more fully considered by everyone involved in the skills debate:

1)      Electronic job applications have revolutionized large-company hiring practices – but not necessarily for the better.  Because the internet has vastly lowered the barriers to application, companies have been flooded with applications.  Their response has been to automate the search process.  What tends to happen is that employers, in an attempt to keep numbers manageable, simply search for keywords on CVs – keywords that screen out far too many people.  This leads to a situation where the only people eligible for the job are people who have already done the job.  (There’s also an amusing anecdote about an HR firm CEO who suspected this was happening at his own company, and so sent in his own CV, incognito.  He was rejected.)

2)      Hiring new workers isn’t like shopping at Home Depot.  For any given body of work that a company undertakes, many different hiring strategies exist.  You could, for instance, do a job with a few highly-skilled workers and a lot of low-skilled workers, or an intermediate number of intermediate-skilled workers.  While certain job-specific skills are necessary, companies mainly need portfolios of skills across their entire workforce.  And the most important skill is the ability to work hard and be adaptable – precisely the kind of thing that hiring managers have trouble determining from keyword searches.

3)      North America (he says the US, but I think Canada fits this definition too) is the only place in the world that thinks of companies as consumers of skills.  Pretty much everywhere else in the world, they are thought of at least partly as producers of skills, because they do radical things like “training”.   If we have elevated expectations of our post-secondary institutions, why do we not have elevated expectations of employers as well?  Sure, it’s great when colleges and universities turn out prepared graduates, talented graduates, adaptable graduates.  But fully-trained, already-able-to-do-the-job graduates?  Employers have to be more realistic, and step up to the plate themselves.

All in all, a worthwhile contribution to the debate.  Pick it up.

March 11

A European Perspective on Three-Year Degrees

Glen Murray may be gone, but the allure of three-year bachelor’s degrees remains.  In future, my guess is that they’ll be much like the German apprenticeship system – an educational deus ex machina that successive generations of Canadian politicians will “discover” anew every couple of years.  So it’s probably worth asking, after roughly a decade of Bologna implementation, how Europeans themselves feel the whole experience is panning out. My own sense from talking to people across the continent is that, while no one thinks the three-year bachelor’s degrees are a failure, no one considers them a triumph, either.

For much of Europe, the adoption of a three-year bachelor’s degree was an act of division, not subtraction. That’s because in Germany, and most countries to its north and east, the pre-Bologna initial degree was not a 4-year bachelor’s but a 5- or even 6-year degree, equivalent to our master’s degree.  The move to divide these degrees into a 3-year bachelor’s and a 2-year master’s seemed to make sense for three reasons: first, because governments were indeed looking for ways to reduce student time-to-completion; second, the creation of a new credential seemed like an opportunity to get universities to focus on a new type of student, who wanted less theory and more practice; and third, for those who were dubious about the first two reasons, there was an overriding desire not to get left behind in the creation of a single, pan-European Higher Education Area with harmonized degree-lengths.

On the demand side, it’s been a bigger-than-expected challenge to get students to take shorter programs. In Germany, for instance, 80-90% of bachelor’s graduates go on to get a master’s, because everyone assumes that this is what businesses will want.  And they’re not wrong: in Finland, post-graduation employment rates for master’s grads is nearly 20 points higher than for bachelor’s grads (for university graduates, anyway – Polytechnic bachelor’s degree-holders do better).

It’s been no easier on the providers’ side.  When you’re used to giving 6 years of instruction to someone before giving them a credential, it’s not super-obvious how to cope with doing something useful in half the time.  In a number of cases, institutions left their five-year programs more or less unchanged, and just handed out a credential after three years (which makes at least some sense if 80-90% of people are going on anyway).  Where compression has actually occurred, what tends to happen is that institutions elect to keep courses on technical, disciplinary skills, and get rid of pesky things like electives, and courses that help build transversal skills.  The result is a set of much narrower, less flexible degrees than before.

At least part of the problem is that there hasn’t been a lot of progress in terms of finding ways to deliver both “soft skills” and technical skills in the same courses, which permit delivery of a more rounded curriculum without extending time-to-completion.  But innovative curriculum planners are in short supply at the best of times; it’s the sort of thing that probably should have been considered before engaging in a continent-wide educational experiment like this.

All of which is to say: three-year degrees are not easy to design or deliver, and they don’t necessarily work in the labour market, either.  Shorter completion times are good, but caveat emptor.

March 10

Could We Eliminate Sessionals if We Wanted To?

Last week, when I was writing about sessionals, I made the following statement:

“Had pay levels stayed constant in real terms over the last 15 years, and the surplus gone into hiring, the need for sessionals in Arts & Science would be practically nil”.

A number of you wrote to me, basically calling BS on my statement.  So I thought it would be worthwhile to show the math on this.

In 2001-02, there were 28,643 profs without administrative duties in Canada, collectively making $2.37 billion dollars, excluding benefits.  In 2009-10, there were 37,266 profs making $4.29 billion, also excluding benefits.  Adjusting for inflation, that’s a 56% increase in total compensation – but, of course, much of that is taken up by having more profs.  If we also control for the increase in the number of professors, what we have left is an increase of 18.8%, or $679 million (in 2009 dollars).

How many new hires could you make with that?  Well, the average assistant prof in 2009 made $90,000.  So, simple math would suggest that 7,544 new assistant profs could have been hired for that amount.  That means that had professors’ salaries stayed even in real terms, universities could have hired 16,347 new staff in that decade, instead of the 8,803 they actually did.

(Okay, I’m oversimplifying a bit.  There are transaction costs to landing new professors.  And hiring that many young profs all at once would just be storing up financial chaos 5-15 years down the road, as they gain in seniority.  So $679 million probably wouldn’t buy you that many new profs.  But on the other hand, if you were doing some hiring, you’d spend less money on sessionals, too, so it’s probably not far off.)

Would that number of new hires have eliminated the need for sessionals?  Hard to say, since we have no data either on the number of sessionals, or the number of courses they collectively teach.  What we can say is that if 7,500 professors had been hired, the student:faculty ratio would have fallen from 25:1 to 22:1, instead of rising – as, in fact, it did – to 27:1. That’s a pretty significant change no matter how you slice it.

(The question remains, though: would you want to give up sessionals, even if you could?  As I pointed out last week, in many programs sessionals perform a vital role of imparting practical, real-world experience to students.  And even where that’s not their primary function, they act as swing labour, helping institutions cope with sudden surges of students in particular fields of study.  They have their uses, you know.)

Now, I’m not suggesting that professors should have foregone all real wages increases over a decade, in order to increase the size of the professoriate.  But I am suggesting that universities have made some choices in terms of pay settlements that has affected their ability to hire enough staff to teach all the students they’ve taken on.  The consequence – as I noted before – is more sessionals.  But it very definitely did not need to be that way.

March 07

Those Times Higher Education Reputation Rankings, 2014

The Times Higher Education (THE) Rankings came out yesterday.  Compared to previous years, there was very little fanfare for the release this time.  And that’s probably because the results weren’t especially interesting.

The thing to understand about rankings like this is that they are both profoundly true and profoundly trivial.  A few universities are undoubtedly seen as global standards, and so will always be at the top of the pile.  Previous THE rankings have shown that there is a “Big Six” in terms of reputation: Harvard, Stanford, Berkeley, MIT, Cambridge, and Oxford – this year’s results again show that no one else comes close to them in term of reputation.  Then there are another thirty or so who can more or less hold their position at the top from year-to-year.

After that, though, results are capricious.  Below 50th position, the Times neither assigns specific ranks (it presents data in tens, i.e., 51st-60th, 61st-70th, etc.), nor publishes the actual reputation score, because even they don’t think the scores are reliable.  Just for kicks, I divided this year’s top 100 into those groups of ten – a top ten, a next ten, a third ten, and so on – to see how many institutions were in the same group last year.  Here’s what I got:

Number of Institutions in Each Ten-Place Grouping in THE Reputation Rankings, Which Remained in Same Grouping, 2013 and 2014














You’d expect a little movement from group-to-group – someone 71st last year rising to 69th this year, for instance – but this is just silly.  Below about 40th spot, there’s a lot of essentially random survey noise because the scores are so tight together that even small variations can move an institution several places.

A few American universities rose spectacularly this year – Purdue came in at 49th, despite not even cracking the top 100 in the previous year’s rankings; overall, there were 47 (up 3 from last year) American universities in the top 100.  Seoul National University was the biggest riser within the top 50, going from 41st to 26th, which may suggest that people are noticing quality in Korean universities (Yonsei also cracked top 100 for the first time), or it may just mean more Koreans responded to the survey (within limits, national response rates do matter – THE re-weights responses by region, but not by country; if you’re in a region with a lot of countries, like Europe or Asia, and your numbers go up, it can tilt the balance a bit).  Surprisingly, Australian universities tanked in the survey.

The American result will sound odd to anyone who regularly reads the THE and believes their editorial line about the rise of the East and decline of West in higher education.  But what do you expect?  Reputation is a lagging indicator.  Why anyone thinks its worthy of measuring annually is a bit mysterious.

March 06


The plight of sessional lecturers (or, as they call them in the US, “adjuncts”) is possibly the only issue in higher education that generates even more overblown rhetoric than tuition fees.  Any time people start evoking slavery as a metaphor, you know perspective has flown the coop.

Though data on sessional numbers in Canada are non-existent, no one disputes that their numbers are rising, and that they are becoming an increasingly central part of major universities’ staffing plans.  In large Ontario universities, it’s not uncommon for certain faculties to have 40-50% of their total credit hours taught by sessionals.  Wage data is scarce, too, though last year University Affairs produced a worthwhile survey on sessionals’ working conditions.  The numbers vary from place to place, but let’s just say that relying solely on sessional wages must be pretty challenging.

A problem in generalizing about sessionals is that they come in two distinct varities.  First are the mid/late-career professionals who already make good money from full-time employment elsewhere, and who help provide relevant, up-to-date content based on practical experience in programs like Law and Nursing.  For them, sessional teaching is a way to pick up an extra cheque, and maybe have some fun doing it. Outside Arts & Science, this is the dominant model of sessionals, and universities are much the better for their presence.

In Arts & Sciences, on the other hand, sessionals are much more likely to be recent PhD graduates looking to get a foothold on the academic ladder.  Unable for the moment to make the tenure track, taking multiple sessional gigs lets them stay within the university system, but prevents them from doing what they (and indeed the entire higher ed system) value most: research.  As a result, being a sessional can sometimes take one further from the tenure track, rather than closer to it.  The sessional “crisis”, needless to say, focuses on this latter group, rather than on the professionals.

What’s truly bizarre about the discourse on sessionals are the frankly conspiratorial views of the cause of the “crisis”.  But there’s no mystery here: universities, for the most part, get paid by governments and students according to how much teaching they do; despite this, they pay their academic staff to spend roughly half their time doing stuff other than teaching.  Unsurprisingly, this results in there being more teaching duties than available teaching time.  Hence the need for sessionals (a need that has only grown larger as research has increased in importance).

And why is their pay so low?  Partly, it’s a free market and there’s a heck of a lot of people willing to do academic work for very little pay.  But partly it’s because institutions have a conscious choice to prioritize pay rises for existing full-time staff (gotta pay more for research excellence!) over hiring new full-time staff. Had pay levels stayed constant in real terms over the last 15 years, and the surplus gone into hiring, the need for sessionals in Arts & Science would be practically nil.

Basically, no one “decided” to create an academic underclass of sessionals.  Rather, they are an emergent property of a system where universities mostly earn money for teaching, but spend a hell of a lot of it doing research.

March 05

The Long-Term Benefits of Higher Education

A very good Statscan report came out last week, and didn’t get nearly enough attention.  Authored by the excellent Marc Frenette, it’s called, An Investment of a Lifetime? The Long-term Labour Market Outcomes Associated with a Post-Secondary Education, and it deserves a wide readership.

What Frenette did was link the 1991 census file to the Longitudinal Worker File (LWF), which integrates data from Records of Employment, annual T1 and T4 files, and some data on employers as well, for a 10% random sample of all Canadian workers.  From this, he created a sample of about 8,000 people who were born in Canada between 1955 and 1957 (i.e. who were about 35 years old at the time of the census), and who held jobs in 18 out of 20 years since then. From this, he worked out what the added value of university and college credentials were over that period.

Figure 1 shows earnings by education level.  For men between the ages of 35 and 55, the added benefit of a college education (vs. high school) was $153,000; for a university education it was $445,000 (for women, the figures were $115,000 and $280,000).  In addition to higher salaries, higher levels of education were also associated with higher levels of union membership, and lower frequency of layoffs.

Figure 1: Net Present Value of 20-Year Earnings of Canadian-Born Workers, by Level of Education














Figure 1 isn’t exactly ground-breaking; more education = more money, and more so for men than women.  Where it gets interesting is when the results are disaggregated by gender, and attention is paid not just to means and medians but also at the distributional tails.  Figure 2 compares the wage premiums at various percentiles for female college and university graduates, over high school graduates in the equivalent percentiles.

Figure 2: Cumulative Additional 20-Year Earnings for Female College and University Graduates, at Selected Percentiles














Figure 2 shows three things.  First, women with university degrees make more money than those with college or high school across all percentiles.  Second, that said, down around the 5th-10th percentile, the premiums are so low that it’s really not clear that women are better off with higher education.  And third, the premium for higher education really flattens out above the median – which, as Figure 3 shows, is not even vaguely the case for men.

Figure 3: Cumulative Additional 20-Year Earnings for Male College and University Graduates, at Selected Percentiles














Crazy stuff.  Recall from Figure 1 that average gains for men were significantly higher than for women.  But Figure 2 and Figure 3 show that the median gains – those at the 50th percentile – are about the same.  The difference is that among males, the top ten percent – and especially the top five percent – are reaping astronomical rewards from higher education.

The last amazing thing in the paper has to do with how men and women with bachelor’s degrees fare comparatively in the public and private sectors.  And the numbers there are astonishing: in the bottom ten percentiles in the private sector, women are making less money, cumulatively, than their counterparts with just high-school education.  But what’s really interesting here is the fact that in the public sector, at least, women actually reap higher gains than men.

Figure 4: Median Cumulative Additional Earnings for Male and Female University Graduates in Public and Private Sectors














Nitpickers will likely snub this study – it deals with a cohort that finished school 35 years ago, it doesn’t disaggregate by field of study, etc.  But methodologically, it points to ways to conduct future studies (we could do the same with a shorter period for 25 year-olds in the 2001 census, for instance), and substantively it gives us a lot to chew on, not only in terms of average earnings, but also with the distribution of those earnings.  Kudos to Marc for this work.

March 04

Smarter Policy on Apprenticeships

I’m pretty sick of the discourse around apprenticeships in Canada.  But that doesn’t mean I’m against apprenticeships; quite the opposite, actually.  I’d just like policy formation on the subject to revolve around something more intelligent than MOREMOREMOREWENEEDMORE.

Instead of focussing the discussion entirely around intake rates, we could be having much more productive discussions about any of the following:

1.        How do we increase completion rates?

Contra most of the rhetoric you hear, Canada’s apprenticeship intake rates are pretty good – and in the skilled trades, our rates are higher than in Germany.  The bigger issue is that half of all apprentices don’t complete their training within ten years of starting a program, and a significant proportion of those who do, take far more than the “four years” you see on brochures.  We don’t tolerate this kind of failure rate in other forms of education – why do we tolerate it for apprenticeships?

2.       Should we continue to use block-release for training? 

In most countries, apprentices intersperse their learning and working on a near-daily basis.  A typical situation in Germany would be to have the apprentice working on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and in class on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  In large part, this day-release policy exists to ensure that the applied and theoretical parts of learning are as integrated as possible.  In Canada, we do what is known as “block release” – that is, have apprentices do their learning in discrete chunks.  Our system evolved partly because of climate, and partly because of government EI rules: laying off workers for a few weeks so they could get some training was both a convenient way for employers to slim payroll during the winter months, and a way for provinces to get the feds involved in financing apprenticeships.  But does it make sense pedagogically?  Do we get better journeypersons as a result?

3.       Why do our apprenticeships take so long?

There’s virtually nowhere else in the world where apprenticeships take longer than three years.  Why do ours take four, or more?  Do our apprentices end up more skilled than those elsewhere, or is this just a way for businesses to pad profits by paying well-trained workers less than full rate for an extra year?

4.       How do the outcomes of our apprenticeships compare to those in other countries?

This is really the key question.  The number of journeypersons we have is ultimately only half the equation: all the quantity in the world doesn’t make up for a lack of quality. And we actually have some means to do this: I’d love to have someone give red seal exams to a random group of German or Dutch apprentices, and see how they do (for balance, it’d be good to have apprentices from different countries take the PIAAC test, as well).

Anyone who wants to have those discussions is welcome for a chat at HESA Towers, anytime.  Anyone who wants to keep banging on tired tropes about how trades are discriminated against, and we need to encourage more students to blah blah blah, I have but two words: do better.

March 03

Effective Higher Education Policy

Higher education, as a policy field, requires long-term thinking.  It’s not just because universities themselves are pretty slow to effect change: it’s because it genuinely can take years for policies to have an impact.  Want to improve research impact? You need to build new labs, hire new staff, perform research, do peer review, publish, do the knowledge mobilization, etc.  Want to “double the pipeline” to get better computer science grads?  That really means getting students to shift to heavier STEM course-loads back in grade 9, then get accepted into university, then graduate.  That’s 9 years, minimum, before you see any real change.

Effective long-term policy-making requires that governments are able to make credible commitments; when they say something is going to happen, it has to happen.  Otherwise, institutions will basically twiddle their thumbs and wait the government out.  For precisely this reason, Ontario right now is the exact opposite of an effective higher education system.  It’s not just because, since 2006, the Liberals have used higher ed mostly as a playground for electoral gimmickry (though that hasn’t helped); it also has to do with the fact that everybody in the province thinks the Liberals are done like dinner, and will be gone with a matter of months.  Consequently, no one treats current policy initiatives (e.g., differentiation) as anything other than busywork, which will be binned the day after the election.

I can hear skeptics saying: so what? Governments have shelf-lives (except in Alberta), and when they’re done, they’re done, and policies change.  But that doesn’t have to be the case.  One of the things about societies with high-performing higher education systems – the Dutch, for instance – is that you don’t see a lot of violent lurches in higher education policy.  There’s actually strong bipartisan support for long-term policies.  Partly, this is a result of the electoral system, and the way it forces together coalition governments.  But more importantly, parties realize that trying to use the education system as a wedge issue with which to score points against one another at election time is, in the long run, counterproductive.

Change wouldn’t be easy to achieve here in Canada; bipartisanship doesn’t come easy in Westminster systems. But it would help matters immensely, I think, if universities and colleges changed their lobbying techniques.  Right now, the emphasis is always on being aligned with “the party of government”, whoever that happens to be.  Over the past two decades, that’s been a successful recipe for getting governments to give the higher education lots of little treats every year, but it’s actually done very little to encourage long-term policy stability.   The sector has won a lot of battles this way, but it never seems to win the war.

It’s time to change tack.  The sector needs to start engaging political parties collectively, nudging political parties towards common policies that will survive changes of government, instead of getting them to compete against each other for the sector’s favour every four years.  For government to be smarter, institutions need to change the way they play the game.

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