Data Check: Teaching by precarious faculty in Ontario jumps

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OCUFA estimates reveal that the number of courses taught by precarious, part-time faculty in Ontario has jumped by 87 per cent. This is a worrying trend for both professors and the students they teach.

As reported in last week’s Data Check, the evidence is clear that the increase in the number of precarious part-time faculty in the United States far outstrips growth in full-time faculty. The elimination of the Statistics Canada survey on full-time faculty and the absence of any survey of Canadian part-time faculty make it impossible to make a direct comparison, but the available evidence that is available shows a similar trend in Ontario.

We can estimate the trend in the number of half courses taught by part-time faculty in Ontario by dividing the amount of salary paid each year to part-time faculty as reported by institutions by the respective stipends (excluding pay for vacation and benefits) paid to part-time faculty under faculty agreements or university policy. Stipends vary even within the same agreement, but if the maximum stipend is used, the method is consistent and the resulting estimates are alarming.

By that measure, between 2000 and 2012 the number of half course equivalents taught by part-time faculty rose roughly by 20,000 to 43,500. This 87 per cent jump well exceeds the one-third increase in the number of courses taught by full-time faculty. It also outpaces the 68 per cent rise in student enrolment, but the increase in precarious employment has done nothing to address Ontario’s terrible class sizes, as revealed in OCUFA Report a month ago.

Precarious faculty are excellent teachers and researchers, but their ability to be effective is compromised by the nature of contract work. They must struggle with insecurity, low wages, and no benefits, while attempting to serve students with diminished resources. Making these professors full-time improves their working conditions, and promotes student success. So what are we waiting for?

Sources:
Council of Ontario Finance Officers, Financial Report of Ontario Universities, Table 6, Operating Expenses
Collective agreements and memoranda of agreement by institution and faculty association or union
Individual institutions, Common University Data Ontario, Table H. Instructional Faculty and Class Size; institutional data
Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, USER Enrolment Data

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