Data Check: The disturbing decline in tenure and tenure track positions

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A recent Statistics Canada report reveals a worrying decline in the number of tenured and tenure-track faculty members at Canada’s universities. According to the study:

“The overall proportion of tenured or tenure-track positions for doctorate holders working full-time in Canadian universities decreased by 10 percentage points between 1981 and 2007, decreasing from 79.8% in the 1980/1981 academic year to 70.3% in the 2006/2007 academic year. The decline was even more pronounced for professors under the age of 35. In 1980/1981, one-third of professors under age 35 (35%) held a full-time tenured or tenure-track position; 25 years later, this was true for only 12% of professors in that age category, a decrease of 23 percentage points.”

  The report does not indicate why this decline has occurred, but it there are some compelling explanations that warrant further explanation. In Ontario, new faculty hiring has not kept pace with increased numbers of PhD graduates, or the dramatic increase in overall enrolment over the past decade. As a result, Ontario now has the worst student-to-faculty ratio in Canada, at 27-to-1. It seems that we are failing to hire new PhD graduates, while simultaneously subjecting our undergrads to larger class sizes, fewer course choices, and less interaction with faculty. The solution to both problems is simple: hire more full-time faculty.

This article originally appeared in the OCUFA Report. To receive stories like this every week in your inbox, please subscribe.

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