Academic work and institutional diversity in Canada



Institutional diversity, Horizontal diversity, Vertical diversity, Canadian professoriate, Maclean's ranking, U15, Academic work


The objective of this article is to determine if the work of full-time professors in Canada varies depending on the type of universities in which they are employed. A nonparametric comparison of multivariate samples based on data from the Academic Profession in the Knowledge Society (APIKS) survey was used to examine faculty perceptions of their academic work. The results show statistically significant, albeit minimal, differences between primarily undergraduate, comprehensive, and research-intensive institutions. This article confirms that, to a small extent, institutional diversity in Canada is mirrored in academic work, and argues that both vertical and horizontal forms of diversity may exist simultaneously depending on the relative value granted to specific academic activities.

Author Biographies

Olivier Bégin-Caouette, Université de Montréal

is an Associate Professor in comparative higher education, as well as the coordinator for higher education programs at the Université de Montréal. He is also one of the co-founders of the Laboratory for Interdisciplinary Research on Higher Education (LIRES). His research focus on the interactions between higher education systems and their political, economic, social and cultural contexts.

Sébastien Béland, Université de Montréal

Sébastien Béland is an Associate Professor in the Department of Educational Policy and Foundations at the Université de Montréal, Canada. He is also a member of the Laboratory for Interdisciplinary Research on Higher Education (LIRES). His research is at the intersection of statistics, educational measurement, academic integrity, and classroom assessment within higher education.

Grace Karram Stephenson, University of Toronto

is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Leadership, Higher and Adult Education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. Grace teaches recurring issues in higher education, comparative higher education, and teaching and learning in higher education. Her research explores the academic profession, international branch-campuses in the Arab Gulf and Southeast Asia, study abroad programs and spirituality.

Glen A. Jones, University of Toronto

is the Ontario Research Chair in Postsecondary Education Policy and Measurement, Professor of Higher Education and Director of the Centre for the Study of Canadian and International Education, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto. His research focuses on higher education governance, policy, and academic work.

Amy Scott Metcalfe, University of British Columbia

is a Professor of Higher Education in the Department of Educational Studies at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. Her research focuses on higher education in Canada and the North American region, including (post)critical approaches to internationalization, academic labour and mobility, and critical policy studies in education.


Aghion, P., David, P. A., & Foray, D. (2009). Science, technology and innovation for economic growth: Linking policy research and practice in ‘STIG Systems’. Research policy, 38(4), 681-693.

Arimoto, A. (2011). Reaction to academic ranking: Knowledge production, faculty productivity from an international perspective. In J.-C. Shin, R. K. Toutkoushian & U. Teicher (eds.), University Rankings: Theoretical Basis, Methodology and Impacts on Global Higher Education (pp. 229-258). Springer.

Banks, J. A. (2012). Encyclopedia of Diversity in Education. Sage Publications.

Becher, T., & Trowler, P. (2001). Academic tribes and territories: Intellectual enquiry and the cultures of disciplines. Open University Press/SRHE.

Birnbaum, R. (1983). Maintaining Diversity in Higher Education. Jossey-Bass.

Burchett, W. W., Ellis, A. R., Harrar, S. W., & Bathke, A. C. (2017). Nonparametric inference for multivariate data: The R package npmv. Journal of Statistical Software, 76(4), 1-18.

Council of Canadian Academies (2018). Competing in a Global Innovation Economy: The Current State of R&D in Canada. Council of Canadian Academies.

Cantwell, B., Marginson, S., & Smolentseva, A. (Eds.). (2018). High participation systems of higher education. Oxford University Press.

Canada Foundation for Innovation – CFI (2015). Consultation on the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s Fund Architecture. ds/2015%20CF I%20Consultation%20discussion%20paper.pdf.

Codling, A., & Meek, L. V. (2006). Twelve propositions on diversity in higher education. Higher Education Management and Policy, 18(3), 1-24.

Dinno, A. (2017). Dunn.test: Dunn’s Test of Multiple Comparisons Using Rank Sums. R package version 1.3.5. https ://

Fallis, G. (2013). Rethinking higher education: Participation, research, and differentiation. McGill- Queen’s Press.

Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario - HEQCO (2012). The productivity of the Ontario public postsecondary system: A preliminary report. EQCO%20Productivity%20Report.pdf.

Jones, G. A (2018). Decentralization, provincial systems and the challenge of equity: High participation higher education in Canada. In B. Cantwell, S. Marginson, & A. Smolentseva, (Eds.). High participation systems of higher education(pp. 203-226). Oxford University Press. 008

Jones, G.A. (1998). The Idea of a Canadian University. Interchange 29(1), 69–80.

Jones, G.A., Gopaul, B., Weinrib, J., Metcalfe, A. S., Fisher, D., Gingras, Y., & Rubenson, K. (2014). Teaching, research and the Canadian professoriate. In J. C. Shin, A. Arimoto, W. K. Cummings and U. Teichler (eds.), Teaching and research in contemporary higher education (pp. 335- 359). Springer.

Karran, T., & Mallinson, L. (2019). Academic freedom and world-class universities: A virtuous circle? Higher Education Policy, 32(3) 397–417.

Kehm, B. (2013). To be or not to be? The impacts of the excellence initiative on the German system of higher education. In J. C. Shin & B. M. Kehm (eds.), Institutionalization of world-class university in global competition (pp. 81-97). Springer.

Kwiek, M. (2018). Changing European academics: A comparative study of social stratification, work patterns and research productivity. Routledge.

Lacroix, R., & Maheu, L. (2015). Leading research universities: Autonomous institutions in a competitive academic world. McGill-Queen's Press.

Locke, W. (2011). The institutionalization of rankings: Managing status anxiety in an increasingly marketized environment. In J.-C. Shin, R. K. Toutkoushian & U. Teicher (eds.), University rankings: Theoretical basis, methodology and impacts on global higher education (pp. 201-228). Springer.

MacDonald, M. (2016). Four small universities in Eastern Canada rebrand as the “Maple League.” University Affairs.

Maclean's (2019). Maclean's University Rankings.

Metcalfe, A. S., Fisher, D., Gingras, Y., Jones, G. A., Rubenson, K., & Snee, I. (2016). The changing academic profession in Canada: Personal characteristics, career trajectories, sense of identity/commitment and job satisfaction. In J. F. Galaz-Fontes, A. Arimoto, U. Teichler, & J. Brennan (eds.), Biographies and careers throughout academic life (pp. 105-120). Springer.

Milian, R. P., Davies, S., & Zarifa, D. (2016). Barriers to differentiation: Applying organizational studies to Ontario higher education. Canadian Journal of Higher Education, 46(1), 19-37.

The Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (2013). Ontario's differentiation policy framework for postsecondary education. cyFramework_PostSec.pdf

Münch, R. (2014). Academic capitalism: Universities in the global struggle for excellence. Routledge.

Neave, G. (1996). Homogenization, integration and convergence: The Cheshire Cats of higher education analysis. In L. Meek (Ed.), The mockers and the mocked: Comparative perspectives on differentiation, convergence and diversity in higher education (pp. 26-41). Oxford: Pergamon Press

Orton, L. (2003). A new understanding of postsecondary education in Canada: A discussion paper . Catalogue, 81-595-MIE2003011. Statistics Canada. 595-m/81-595-m2003011-eng.pdf?st=6Z_PjGRp

Page, S. (1996). Rankings of Canadian universities, 1995: More problems in interpretation. Canadian Journal of Higher Education, 26(2), 47-58. Page, S. (2001). Ranking of Canadian universities: A new marketing tool. Journal of Marketing for Higher Education, 10(2), 59-69.

Piché, P. G. (2015). Institutional diversity and funding universities in Ontario: Is there a link?. Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, 37(1), 52-68.

Polster, C. (2015). The Nature and implications of the growing importance of research grants to Canadian universities and academics. In C. Polster & J. Newson (eds.), A penny for your thoughts: How corporatization devalues teaching, research, and public service in canada’s universities (pp. 213-36). Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

Porter, S. R., & Umbach, P. D. (2001). Analyzing faculty workload data using multilevel modeling. Research in Higher Education, 42(1), 171–196.

Re$earch Infosource Inc. (2018). Canada’s Top 50 Research Universities 2018.

Ross, S., Savage, L., & Watson, J. (2019). University teachers and resistance in the neoliberal university. Labour Studies Journal, 45(3), 227–249.

Salmi, J. (2009). The challenge of establishing world class universities. The World Bank.

Shin, J. C., & Jang, Y. S. (2013). World-class university in Korea: Proactive government, responsive university, and procrastinating academics. In J. C. Shin & B. M. Kehm (eds.), Institutionalization of world-class university in global competition (pp.147-163). Springer.

Skolnik, M. L. (1986). Diversity in higher education: The Canadian case. Higher Education in Europe, 11(2), 19-32.

Side, K., & Robbins, W. (2007). Institutionalizing inequalities in Canadian universities: The Canada research chairs program. NWSA Journal, 19(3), 163-181.

Solem, M. N., & Foote, K. E. (2004) Concerns, attitudes, and abilities of early-career geography faculty. Annuals of the Association of American Geographers, 94(4), 889–912.

Teichler, U. (2011). Social contexts and systemic consequence of university rankings: A meta- analysis of the ranking literature. In J.-C. Shin, R. K. Toutkoushian & U. Teicher (eds.), University rankings: Theoretical basis, methodology and impacts on global higher education (pp. 55-69). Springer.

U15 – Group of Canadian Research Universities. (2020). About us.

U15 - Groupe of Canadian Research Universities. (2015). Canada 2030: Making Canada the most Innovative country in the world. Making-Canada-the-most-innovative-country-in-the-world.pdf.

University and College Academic Staff System (2018). Full-time teaching staff at Canadian universities, 2017/2018. Statistics Canada. 11-627-M. 627-m/11-627-m2018056-eng.htm.

Vajoczki, S., Fenton, N., Menard, K., & Pollon, D. (2011). Teaching-stream faculty in Ontario universities. Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario.

van Damme, D. (2009). The Search for Transparency: Convergence and Diversity in the Bologna Process. In F. van Vught (Ed.), Mapping the Higher Education Landscape (pp. 39-55). Springer.

van Vught, F. A. (2009). Diversity and differentiation in higher education. In F. A van Vught (ed.), Mapping the higher education landscape (pp. 1-16). Springer.

Wasserstein, R., & Lazar, N. A. (2016) The ASA statement on p-values: Context, process, and purpose. The American Statistician, 70(2), 129-133.

Webber, K. L., & Rogers, S. M. (2018). Gender differences in faculty member job satisfaction: Equity forestalled? Research in Higher Education, 59(8), 1105–1132.




How to Cite

Bégin-Caouette, O., Béland, S., Karram Stephenson, G., Jones, G. A., & Metcalfe, A. S. (2024). Academic work and institutional diversity in Canada . McGill Journal of Education / Revue Des Sciences De l’éducation De McGill. Retrieved from