“Organizationally and operationally, we have lost sight of the forest. If undergraduate education is to be enhanced, faculty members, joined by academic and student affairs administrators, must devise ways to deliver undergraduate education that are as comprehensive and integrated as the ways that students actually learn. A whole new mindset is needed to capitalize on the interrelatedness of the in and out of class influences on student learning and the functional interconnectedness of academic and student affairs divisions”
Pascarella & Terenzini, 1995, p.35).
The Changing Face of Education
Today’s evolving landscape of higher education encompasses the exponential growth and diversification of the student body, increasing costs of higher education delivery, and decreasing government funding. This evolving landscape creates dramatic demands on the quality and accountability of higher education (Mortiboys, 2002) and brings a wide range of challenges to post-secondary education (PSE). As our institutions struggle to address these institution wide pressures, PSE continues to maintain a strong focus on supporting student success and the learning that occurs in the varying contexts, relationships and interactions of the educational community
The most compelling purpose of higher education is student access and student success. Today, contemporary Canadian higher education focuses on educational access with an imperative to educate a growing percentage of the Canadian population (Fisher, 2011). Fuelling discovery and nurturing personal growth higher education commits to helping students achieve their potential, often framed as student success (AUCC, 2011). In 2009 there were almost 3.5 million students enrolled in higher education in Canada and this exponential growth continues today. This growth creates an “increasing diversity of needs…indeed, students – their backgrounds, motivations and learning needs – add layers of complexity to the traditional delivery of higher education” (Fisher, 2011, p. 4). These changing student demographics create multiple layers of differentiation among learners that includes socio-economic and cultural differences, as well as different levels of student preparedness and family support for higher education studies. We also see an ever-increasing number of part-time students, students from special populations, and mature students, who are all seeking flexible delivery of educational programs so they too can be successful in their educational goals (Fisher, 2011).
AUCC. (2011). Great Beginnings. (December 2011), 6.
Fisher, D. (2011). Leaders in Learning Student Affairs in Canada in the 21st Century and implications for the Canadian Associaiton of College and University Student Services: CACUSS.
Mortiboys, A. (2002). Retention as a measure of university effectiveness. In C. Baume, Allan, C. (Ed.), Exchange (1 ed., Vol. 1, pp. 1 – 35). United Kingdom: The National Co-ordination Team, Centre for Higher Education Pracxtice.
Pascarella, E. T., & Terenzini, P. T. (2005). How College Affects Students (Vol.2): A Third Decade of Research (Vol. 2). San Francisco: Jossey Bass.