TORONTO, March 2, 2023 – Ontario university faculty criticized the Premier’s decision to leave their expertise out of critical decision-making regarding the future of post-secondary institutions and warn that doing so will be a recipe for disaster.
In an announcement March 2, the government announced the formation of a Blue Ribbon Panel focused on post-secondary institutions’ financial stability and student experience. Panel members include those from business and administrative backgrounds, but no direct student voices or faculty representation.
Sue Wurtele, the President of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations, said this glaring omission could have devastating effects.
“Ontario’s universities can’t run without faculty, academic librarians, academic professionals, and students, and to omit their expertise from this panel is shocking and irresponsible,” said Wurtele. “Without the knowledge and recommendations from the people whose work drives campus life, the government won’t get a clear or accurate picture of our post-secondary landscape and their decisions could be deeply harmful to our campus communities.”
On behalf of 17,000 faculty, academic librarians, and academic professionals represented by OCUFA, Wurtele called on the Ford government to engage directly and meaningfully with faculty associations and student groups to help shape the future of Ontario’s colleges and universities to avoid future issues. Wurtele pointed to the crisis at Laurentian University, in which corporate advice was taken over faculty concerns, to disastrous results.
The government publicly stated its plans to receive recommendations from the panel in summer 2023. The process is much too rushed for effective consultations.
“Fiscal responsibility and the student experience are extremely important, but transparency, accountability, and public funding will allow our public post-secondary institutions to thrive,” said Wurtele. “The decision to have a discussion about university education that ignores the very people doing the teaching and research is a tell-tale sign that this panel is about performance more than planning.”
OCUFA is ready to work closely with the government to ensure the ongoing success of Ontario’s world-class academic institutions and continues to call for robust and sustainable funding for Ontario’s public universities to ensure fiscal health, high-quality teaching, and student supports.
Founded in 1964, OCUFA represents 17,000 faculty, academic librarians, and other academic professionals in 31 member organizations across Ontario. It is committed to enhancing the quality of higher education in Ontario and recognizing the outstanding contributions of its members towards creating a world-class university system. For more information, please visit the OCUFA website at www.ocufa.on.ca.
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