A Macleans opinion article by U of Waterloo president Vivek Goel. And, in light of this article, two worries concerning EDI and its relationship to the ‘university-cum-business’ model.

This post is best understood by taking a few minutes to read the following opinion article by Vivek Goel. Goel does not explicitly reference EDI in this article, but it certainly warrants a discussion in light of his overarching question:

“Vivek Goel: ‘How do we ensure that the financial resources available to Canadian universities are commensurate with the positioning we seek on the global stage?’ “

Vivek Goel is president and vice-chancellor of the University of Waterloo.”


My two worries as follows (bullet points):

*Please bear in mind my worries require further investigation.

  1. Refer to my claim that EDI programs are not only ramped-up affirmative action programs, but are also in a significant measure about “Brain Drain.”

In line with my claim, Goel notes,

“[T]he [post-secondary] sector is facing increased global competition from universities in Asia that have grown tired of losing some of their brightest people. Just as the pandemic has reshaped entire industries, it has given rise to new challengers in the education space who are offering online degrees, credentials, and a faster route to citizenship—one that can sometimes come at a great cost. “

So I’m pointing out that one strategy some think necessary to bump up Canadian competitiveness on the global stage is to implement EDI strategies. As Goel says,

“Accessibility is important, but the quality of the student experience—which includes the academic programming, extracurricular activities, facilities, and social and health supports available—is what should set us apart.”

  • My worry: Will increasing social programs, i.e. “the student experience,” in order (as some believe) to compete on the global stage negatively impact scholarship?

2. Re: Goel’s claims that,

“Public investment in higher education not only prepares us for new and emerging threats like disease and climate change, it encourages the businesses and talents of tomorrow: In the last decade, businesses incubated at the University of Waterloo have raised over $3.5 billion. These ventures have accelerated growth in our economy in critical areas such as health and education. “

With the above quote in mind, I’ve noted (see 1. “my claim“) that “Implementing EDI programs to increase affirmative action quotas is one thing. But there’s a broader claim with other kinds of corresponding targets here. You’ll first need to know that EDI isn’t confined to Canada. Rather you’ll find that related programs are part of a global movement, usually tied to economic development.”

And in a recent post where I shared an article about the origins and proliferation of EDI consultants to corporations, I commented, “My suspicions are that universities are late-comers to EDI, and that EDI might have been introduced, or at least amplified, by both the university-as-a-business trend and the university’s reliance on corporate donors.”

So. With Goel’s reference to “businesses incubated at the University of Waterloo” and my suspicions about the role of the university-cum-business in the current EDI march through universities, consider the following:

  • My worry: Is corporate interference in academic scholarship facilitated by EDI programs? More precisely, do businesses “incubated” by universities (and corporate donors to universities) use EDI programs to leverage academic scholarship to align with their own business aims (whether intentional or not)?

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