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Academic freedom in Canadian higher education: Universities, colleges, and institutes were not created equal

Abstract: There has been substantial discussion, research, and debate about the role of academic freedom within higher education, primarily centered on the university model. Not as well documented or understood is the issue of academic freedom within colleges and institutes in Canada. In this paper, we examine the current state of academic freedom in colleges and institutes using a historical analysis of two Canadian provinces, British Columbia and Ontario. Beginning with an overview of academic freedom within universities, we then examine the development and evolution of colleges and institutes and discuss how or if academic freedom applies to them. We consider issues of collegiality, faculty engagement, and governance as they impact the concept and practice of academic freedom within these institutions. We also discuss the different origins, intents, roles, and governance models of universities in contrast to colleges and institutes, which are generally representative of the broader Canadian higher education landscape.

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Last Updated: June 17, 2015