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University Governance and Institutional Autonomy


In May 2011, Glen Jones  (University of Toronto), Julia Eastman (University of Victoria) and Claude Trottier (Universite de Laval), were awarded a standard research grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council to embark on a pan-Canadian study of university governance.  The project involved the development of case studies of governance at six major research universities located in five provinces. Data were obtained from interviews conducted at each university as well as with federal and provincial government officials and relevant stakeholder organizations.



• To expand knowledge of university governance in Canada by studying empirically: the commonalities and differences in the way major Canadian universities are governed and in their relationships to government; whether and how their governance is changing; and what forces and factors appear to be at work.

• To situate Canadian university governance in the context of developments abroad.

• To contribute to understanding of the dimensions of university autonomy and of universities’ relationships to state, market, professional and disciplinary bodies and other entities.

• To communicate the findings to a wide audience including: scholars and students of higher education, public policy and governance; public policy makers; university officials and board members; and interested lay people, in Canada and abroad.

Current Status

The data collection phase of the project has been completed and the research team have developed the university/provincial case studies and conducted a detailed cross-case analysis.

The research team is now preparing a series of papers based on our analysis. 


The findings of our study will be released in stages.  A draft paper on Provincial Oversight and University Autonomy in Canada can be downloaded here. It has been accepted for publication in the Canadian Journal of Higher Education and will be followed by a paper on the impact of federal policy and programs on universities and their governance, an analysis of commonalities, differences  and trends in institutional governance, and a paper in French focusing on university governance in Quebec.




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