This theme is in relation to the (in)visible conference.
In Queen’s Park, austerity measures have blown a hole in university budgets, cut student financial aid and eliminated bargaining rights for contract faculty. There is little doubt that working conditions across Canadian universities will deteriorate. Historically, universities have played the role as guardians for Canadian democracy. Transforming higher education into a commodity risks universal access by pricing it out of reach for many Canadian students. The heavy workload placed upon faculty, the insecurity of part-time professors and the high debt load of students represent existential threats to fundamental Canadian values and threaten our society’s ability to ensure universal access to affordable higher education. We have reached a crossroads. We need to engage in a serious discussion about the future of our universities.
Why have tuition rates risen so much in the last thirty years?
Is taxpayer money being directed towards the classroom or diverted towards other institutional priorities that have little bearing upon a quality education?
How much of a student’s tuition actually goes to their professors of instruction?
Faculty, taxpayers, students and alumni need to hold university leaders accountable. Do we want public institutions of higher learning that are focused on empowering the next generation of Canadians? Or will we allow taxpayers to subsidize corporate research for private profit? Canadians need to do a better job to ensure that their tax dollars, tuition payments and donations reflect their values.