Abstract: This case study focuses on Ontario higher education policy and the Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology (CAATs). A sequence of policy shifts occurred during the last decade of the twentieth century and the early years of the new millennium. By 2002, the Government of Ontario had reviewed its position with regard to baccalaureate degree credentials being the exclusive domain of publicly supported universities. Governance arrangements for the CAATs had also changed. The new policy framework was set with two pieces of legislation, the Postsecondary Education Choice and Excellence Act, 2000, and the Ontario Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology Act, 2002. The purpose of this case study is to explain why these policy changes occurred. To facilitate inquiry, John W. Kingdon’s Multiple Streams Model was used as a platform and lens to guide data collection and organize the findings. For Kingdon, policy is the outcome of a complex pre-decision process that requires the ‘coupling’ of the problem, policy, and political streams at the time of an open policy window. A qualitative approach was adopted, and primary and secondary documents covering the period 1990 to 2002 were collected. In addition, in-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted with key policy actors and policy entrepreneurs. The study found evidence to support the Multiple Streams Model's contention of streams of processes. However, with respect to this study, two types of policy problems were found flowing in the problem stream: macro-structural policy problems shaped conditions and the scope of options available with respect to policy goals and policy solutions; and micro-specific policy problems were localized, actor identified, constructed, and linked to specific interests. The study also found that historical institutional structures, and intermediate institutions, had a significant impact on policy development. The policy changes occurred as the result of two open policy windows, and in both instances, policy entrepreneurs were able to couple the policy streams to effect change. In view of the findings, a Structured Dynamics Model of Policy Development is offered as an explanation of the policy changes and for consideration in future inquiry.
Author: Anne Caroline Charles
Source: University of Toronto - TSpace
Last Updated: July 31, 2015