The federal perspective on higher education in Canada has been formed under conditions akin to chronic schizophrenia. The upshot is a dual perspective, the product of a split federal personality in matters of higher education. Dressed in the garb of constitutional propriety, the federal government confronts a world that excludes it from all but minor roles, with responsibility for higher education assigned to provincial governments. But under the guise of political expediency, the federal government contends with both opportunities and pressures to assume a more prominent presence, even to the point of challenging provincial primacy in some aspects of higher education.