Adamson sets record straight about linking soaring tuition to faculty salaries

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A Windsor Star editorial (“What’s driving the bottom line,” Sept. 14) commenting on the negotiations between the Windsor University Faculty Association and the university’s administration blamed Ontario’s high tuition fees on faculty salaries.

“The editorial makes several false and misleading statements that need to be clarified for your readers,” OCUFA President Constance Adamson  responded in a letter to the editor.

Adamson pointed out that the total salary mass for faculty and instructors as a proportion of university operating budgets has actually declined in Ontario.
Faculty salaries made up 38 per cent of operating expenses in 1990, falling to 31 per cent by 2009. At the same time, faculty salaries per student (in constant dollars) fell by 3.0 per cent.

Furthermore, as Adamson told the Star, the evidence shows no link between tuition fee increases and faculty salaries.

Every university in Ontario, including Windsor, has increased their tuition fees by the maximum allowable level since 2006, the year the Liberal government lifted a two-year tuition fee freeze. In fact, the University of Windsor has been increasing its fees to the maximum ever since, three years before the faculty’s 2009 collective agreement was signed.

“The real reason that tuition fees have increased at Windsor and at other universities,” Adamson emphasized, “is the decline in per-student funding from the provincial government.”

Since 1990, Ontario government funding has decreased 25 per cent, Adamson pointed out, leaving the province with the lowest level of per-student dollars in Canada. Universities are filling this budget hole by shifting costs onto students and their families.

“In 1990, students paid for 20 per cent of their education. They now pay for 43 per cent, as compared to 27 per cent in the rest of Canada, “Adamson wrote.

“Tuition fees are a serious issue for Ontario’s students,” she told the Star. “Resolving this issue requires serious attention, not a misinformed blame game that ignores the available evidence.”

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

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