Current News In BC PSE

Weekly News Roundup


Join CUFA BC each week for a roundup of news in BC’s post-secondary sector

Disclaimer: This circulation is an aggregation of current news. The information provided is from original news sources and doesn’t reflect the views of CUFA BC or its member associations.
Week of April 15-19, 2024

Handbook Series Launch | The Bloomsbury Handbooks of Crises and Transformative Leadership in Higher Education

CUFA BC and the allied organization the Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of BC (FPSE) co-published a peer-reviewed book chapter called “Leading provincial labour associations during a time of pandemic: Transitions in pursuit of safe and healthy campuses.” This chapter is part of a four-volume edited series in The Bloomsbury Handbooks of Crises and Transformative Leadership in Higher Education, which focuses on issues of leadership during crisis and change. The chapter was spearheaded by CUFA BC former president Dr. Dan Laitsch following a presentation at the Canadian Society for the Study of Higher Education (CSSHE) at Congress in 2022. The book series officially launches on April 30, 2024 at 2pm UK Time.

BC | International | Zoom Registration


SFU Updates Financial Restructuring

Along with other prominent universities in the country, SFU is facing budget challenges with a projected $50 million deficit. SFU experienced financial challenges in 2023–24 due to a decline in international student enrolments, losses on divestments, and rising interest rates. Since 2023, the university has implemented several cost-saving measures, including encouraging fiscal restraint and an administrative hiring freeze. These measures have helped, but more efforts will be needed to manage ongoing budget pressures. The university will restructure certain areas of its operations with an aim to increase efficiency and reduce duplication where possible. As part of this work, we will also review service levels and identify work that is no longer required. During this restructuring, some administrative job losses can be expected. They have released an FAQ on restructuring plans to come, which follows the hiring freeze implemented earlier this year.

BC | SFU (Restructuring FAQ) | SFU (Hiring Freeze FAQ)


UBC Applied Science adding 338 new domestic student spaces starting in 2024

The UBC Faculty of Applied Science is adding 338 new domestic seats across the Vancouver and Okanagan campuses. This will increase opportunities for Canadian students, and increase the number of engineers available to work on the grand, twin challenges of climate change and human inequity. Starting in fall 2024, the Faculty will gradually add 180 spaces in undergraduate chemical, computer, and integrated engineering, and 58 spaces in biomedical engineering — all at UBC Vancouver. One hundred undergraduate engineering spaces will be added at UBC Okanagan.



New SFU medical school could provide primary care to 30,000 patients

Details of behind-the-scenes efforts to establish British Columbia’s second medical school are increasingly becoming public, including the possibility of family doctor access for thousands of Surrey residents at the Simon Fraser University campus. The information emerged through an exclusive one-on-one interview between CTV News and acting dean Dr. David Price at the Surrey Central complex. Price revealed that 48 spaces will be available for first-year medical students to begin their training in September 2026. Students will be trained in longitudinal, primary care, as family doctors who are considered generalist physicians; the schooling and residency takes approximately eight years. CTV News asked the health minister if he supported the novel concept of a teaching clinic and he was non-committal.

BC | CTV News 1 | CTV News 2


Meet the physicians helping lead the journey to BC’s new medical school

In 2022, the BC government announced that it hopes to establish a medical school at SFU, which would become the first new medical school in Western Canada in over 50 years. In late 2023, Fraser Health hired two physicians, Dr. Navreen Gill, a family physician, and Dr. Anastasia Neufeld, an ophthalmologist and surgeon, to bring strategic medical leadership as the medical school moves toward Senate and Board of Governors approval. We sat down with these two leaders to learn more about their vision for this shared role.



Camosun College Faculty Association 50th Anniversary

The Camosun College Faculty Associations celebrates its 50th anniversary this year with a party on May 4th. Tickets can be purchased online and union swag is available for purchase. Congratulations to the Faculty Association for fifty years of strength and solidarity! CUFA BC looks forward to joining in the celebration!



Open Letter-Our Vision for a Post-Secondary Education System

The BC Federation of Students released an open letter to Premier Eby and the Government of BC saying “We can do better for students: Our vision for post-secondary education system that delivers for students and communities in BC.” We call on the BC government to recognize the critical need to act urgently and intentionally to address the root cause of what’s led to the exploitation of international students and the precarity of the post-secondary system’s current funding model. The letter makes 5 recommendations, including capping international student fee increases, releasing a plan for distributing study permits, completing the funding model review, developing long-term financial stability for institutions, and investing in post-secondary institutions.



A reflection on governance at UBC with Isabella Bravo

Isabella Bravo, a third-year management student, is the current Student Representative to the Board of Governors of the University of British Columbia. Student governors serve as a voice of the student population in important discussions like project approvals, housing, and fee increases. As her term approaches the end, Bravo spoke about the functioning of the board and student issues like award funding, divestment, and parking, and encouraged students to vote in the upcoming elections.

BC | Phoenix


Indigenous ground blessing ceremony marks new chapter at VCC

In a ceremony rich with respect and recognition, Vancouver Community College (VCC) welcomed members from the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations to hold a traditional ground blessing to honour the history of the land and prepare the campus for the construction of the new Centre for Clean Energy and Automotive Innovation (CCEAI). The construction of the CCEAI is made possible through a $271.3 million contribution from the Province of B.C. and is a catalyst project for VCC’s larger Campus Plan. The project will transform the Great Northern Way and Broadway corridors and unlock further opportunities that will benefit the surrounding community.



The Earthquake Shaking BC Politics

Six months from now Kevin Falcon is going to be staggering toward a catastrophic defeat for the remnants of the BC Liberals. But what that will mean for the province’s political future is still up in the air, with the uncertainty increased by two shocking polls that show the Conservatives far ahead of BC United and only a few percentage points behind the NDP.  Falcon’s party had fallen from 33 per cent support to 19 per cent, trailing the Conservatives at 25 per cent. The NDP has 42 per cent support. The Conservatives and BC United will split the centre-right vote, handing the NDP easy wins and a big majority. The polls also mark a big change in the NDP’s situation. If the two recent polls prove accurate and that gap is much smaller, the NDP faces a tougher campaign challenge than anyone expected a few weeks ago.

BC | The Tyee


Federal budget provides welcome investments in research: CAUT

The Canadian Association of University Teachers released the following statement on the federal budget: Today’s budget delivered investments for researchers across the country, including long-awaited and much-needed increases to graduate and post-doctoral fellowships as well as increases to core research funding. The budget included investment in research for $1.8B over five years to core research grant funding; increased the value of master’s and doctoral student scholarships; funding for an additional 1,720 graduate student scholarships and fellowships; $26.9 million over five years to the granting council grant management system; and $30 million over three years to support Indigenous researchers and their communities.

National | CAUT | Gov of Canada (Budget) | Gov of Canada (Press Release) | HESA | Universities Canada


Labour market outcomes for college and university graduates

Statistics Canada released data on labour market outcomes for college and university graduates for the graduating classes of 2010 to 2020. This release includes information on the median employment income by educational qualification, field of study, gender, age group and status of student in Canada, and is available at the national, provincial and territorial levels.

National | Statistics Canada


Bill 18: Turning Albertans into Second-Class Citizens

The Confederation of Alberta Faculty Associations (CAFA) released a statement condemning the introduction of Bill 18, the “Provincial Priorities Act,” as an unprecedented attack on ethical research and the ability of Albertans to compete with other Canadian federal dollars. President Dan O’Donnell argues that the Bill misunderstands how federal research dollars are allocated and is concerned the legislation will stifle innovation with its bureaucratic oversight. The Canadian Association of University Teachers says such political intervention threatens academic freedom given Premier Danielle Smith has said she wants to ensure funding aligns with provincial priorities.

AB | CAFA | Canadian Press


Researchers want a ‘nutrition label’ for academic-paper facts

Inspired by the nutrition-facts labels that have been displayed on US food packaging since the 1990s, John Willinsky is concerned about research integrity and wants to see academic publishing take a similar approach to help to inform readers on how strictly a paper meets scholarly standards. A team at the Public Knowledge Project, a non-profit organization run by Willinsky and his colleagues at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, Canada, has been investigating how such a label might be standardized in academic publishing. Willinsky wants to help readers, including researchers, the media and the public, to decide whether an article is worth reporting on or citing.

International | Nature


Meet the 2024 CUFA BC
Early in Career Award
Dr. Julia Smith

Dr. Julia Smith is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University. Dr. Smith was nominated for her research to identify health and social inequities and inform policy approaches to infectious disease events. She is recognized by her peers as an emerging leader in feminist and rights-based approaches to research on the health and social inequalities relating to HIV/AIDS, the tobacco industry, Indigenous Peoples, and pandemic planning and response. She has raised public awareness of the gendered dynamics of health and promoting gender-responsive research, policy, and practice.


The Confederation of University Faculty Associations of British Columbia (CUFA BC) supports high-quality post-secondary education and research in BC. We represent over 5,500 professors, lecturers, instructors, librarians, and other academic staff through the faculty associations at British Columbia’s research and doctoral universities (the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, the University of Northern British Columbia, Royal Roads University, and the University of Victoria). The Confederation has been in existence for fifty years and works closely with member faculty associations at each institution. All of our member faculty associations are unionized under the Labour Code of British Columbia.

Our office is located on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), Səl̓ı́lwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh), and Stó:lō Nations.