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Education This Week


The College Bubble

May 13, 2011

By Watson Scott Swail, President & CEO, Educational Policy Institute/EPI International

There is a great article on the Huffington Post this week by Amanda Fairbanks called Peter Thiel's College Bubble Theory Gains Few Believers. Thiel is one of the founders of PayPal and an investor in Facebook. He argues that higher education is on the bubble, just like housing was, and it will quickly devalue. Thiel believes that we have so overvalued higher education that it could impact our nation’s creativity and vitality. He is currently conducting a competition to offer current college students $100,000 each to drop out and produce.

There are arguments whether higher education is on a “bubble,” as we like to say in economic circles. The article cites experts who say it isn’t a bubble because it isn’t a commodity that can be traded. No, a degree isn’t. But a person with a degree is traded daily. Just like we buy and trade football, basketball, and hockey players, we trade employees all the time. It is a free market, and in a free market, commodities, like people with degrees, can be overvalued and undervalued.

Where are we now?



In 2010, 52 percent of Canadians aged 15 and over had earned a postsecondary degree, an increase of 9 percent since 2000. Similarly, the percentage of Canadians 15 years of age and over without high school diplomas decreased from 28 percent in 2000 to 20 percent in 2010.

Source: Human Resources and Skills Development Canada



Education changes aim to boost grad rates, curtail bullies
By Karen Kleiss, Edmonton Journal
The province Wednesday proposed sweeping changes to Alberta’s education laws that could improve high school graduation rates, crack down on Internet bullies and encourage local innovation by giving more power to school boards.

Alberta gov’t releases new Education Act
By Rose Sanchez, Prairie Post
Alberta’s has proposed a new Education Act that aims to enhance student access to education and empower local school boards to be more responsive to the learning needs of students and their communities. If passed, the Education Act will replace the current School Act.

Motivation from black role models inspires at-risk kids to stay in school
By Louise Brown, ParentCentral.ca
In an effort to keep kids in school, the “Stand Up: Redefining the Colour of Success” conference at George Brown College aims to give 12- and 13-year-old students inspiration from successful men of color.


Job-seeking university graduates give it the old college try
By Tralee Pearce, Globe and Mail
As the bachelor’s degree loses its lustre, the college system has been prepping for its close-up. One of its biggest boosters: university graduates who are treating colleges and polytechnics as de facto finishing schools.

Law society paves way for Ontario’s first new law school in 43 years
By Tracey Tyler, Toronto Star
If the Ontario government approves a proposal from Lakehead University to open a law school in Thunder Bay, Lakehead will become home to the first new law school in Ontario in more than 40 years, the last being University of Windsor’s faculty of law, which opened in 1969.

The Quest for Knowledge
By Susan Hollis, Pique Magazine
Quest University, a private, non-profit secular liberal arts university faced enormous obstacles as a new model of liberal arts and science universities in Canada. But as the students of the first graduating class crossed the stage last weekend, those obstacles seemed less daunting and the future bright for a university that chose to break the mold of traditional postsecondary education.


The Global Search for Education: The Way Out of Poverty
By C.M. Rubin, EducationNews
Education matters today more than ever to countries, which are at the bottom of the educational hierarchy as well as to those who have highly developed educational systems. 

Chaos at Home Stalls Tuition Aid for Libyan Students in U.S.
By Dan Frosch, New York Times
With $30 billion of its assets frozen by the United States, Libya has stopped financing its American scholarship program, which has enough money to last only until June 1. That leaves many students at risk of having to drop out of school, which could ultimately render them illegal.

Inequalities Complicate S. Africa College Admissions
By Anders Kelto, National Public Radio
South Africa is still coping with the aftermath of apartheid and a lingering educational gap between black and white. Now, a series of public debates about college admissions has reopened a national dialogue on race.

GLOBAL: America, UK dominate life sciences rankings
By David Jobbins, University World News
British and North American universities lead a new global ranking for medicine, biological sciences and psychology, with a sprinkling of universities from continental Europe, Australia, New Zealand and the Far East barely breaking their near-monopoly of the life sciences.


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