In recent years, the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO) has launched several studies that analyze and conceptualize the differentiation of the Ontario postsecondary education system (Weingarten & Deller, 2010; Hicks, Weingarten, Jonker & Liu, 2013; Weingarten, Hicks, Jonker & Liu, 2013). Similarly, in the summer of 2012, the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU) initiated several projects to identify ways to drive innovation and improve the productivity of the postsecondary sector.
Within this context, in June 2013 HEQCO began to look at what it called ‘the proliferation of public policy schools.’ Anecdotally, there has been much discussion about the rise of public policy programs. Findings from a preliminary scan of existing graduate public policy programs and their establishment dates demonstrated that there has been a proliferation in the number of public policy programs in Canada, starting with Carleton University in 1953 and ending with the University of Calgary in 2011. In roughly the past decade, there has been a one-third increase in the number of such graduate programs. This trend mirrors what has happened elsewhere, in particular in the United States.