Differentiation Policy and Access to Higher Education in Northern Ontario, Canada: An Analysis of Unintended Consequences





Differentiation policy, Ontario, Educational policy, Higher Education


Differentiation policies have been implemented in Ontario higher education (HE) with the intent of manufacturing a more efficient and higher-quality system. Policy-makers have repeatedly touted their benefits, but the unintended consequences of differentiation policies remain neglected. Through this piece, we present a northern critique of differentiation policies grounded on the distance deterrence effects literature. We propose that differentiation policies threaten to exacerbate existing provincial north-south disparities in HE access, hampering human capital formation and economic development in northern communities. In addition, we specify some strategies to mitigate these detrimental effects and conclude by providing a conceptual framework through which to understand regional “blind spots” in differentiation policy.

Author Biographies

Roger Pizarro Milian, University of Toronto

... visiting researcher in the Department of Leadership, Higher & Adult Education at the University of Toronto.

Brad Seward, University of Toronto

.... Practice Lead for the research initiative Education and Skills at the Mowat Centre, Munk School for Public Policy, University of Toronto.

David Zarifa, Nipissing University

... is professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, and Canada Research Chair (Tier II) in Life Course Transitions in Northern and Rural Communities at Nipissing University in North Bay, Ontario. 






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