Data Gaps

The scarcity of reliable Canadian postsecondary performance and costing data is distressing.

We have culled our list of indicators to those that are available for all provinces, are at least reasonably reliable and are at least reasonably current. Indicators for colleges are sparser than indicators for universities, owing primarily to the sad state of repair in the college side of the national Postsecondary Student Information System (PSIS). We were also challenged to find reliable cross-provincial indicators of performance in the trades and apprenticeship.

For universities, there are sufficient indicators to produce the roll up of provincial performance and test the relationship of performance to cost.

Because we have fewer performance indicators and no reliable provincial cost-per-student data for colleges and the trades, we have excluded college and trades related performance indicators from our rolled up performance score. The performance – cost correlation we are examining, therefore, is focused solely on universities because of this data limitation.

You can't manage what you don't measure – and what gets measured gets done. If we are to improve higher education in Canada we simply have to do a better job of collecting and reporting relevant, meaningful information in a standardized way across Canada about the state of our higher education systems and institutions, and their performance and outcomes. This, and previous, HEQCO reports reveal far too many data gaps, things we do not know, about higher education in Canada. We have created processes and agencies to collect meaningful and useful data across provinces to assess the state of health care in Canada, to reveal areas where improvements are needed and to suggest effective strategies. Education should be no less a priority.