Quo Vadis? Ask Profs

Created 15 February 2011 14:02

BC’s university professors warned today that the provincial government’s “status quo” budget extends a gradual degradation of the quality of education and constrains BC’s ability to compete in the knowledge economy.

“In response to this ‘status quo’ budget, we need the leadership candidates to tell us ‘quo vadis?’ – where are you headed?” said Dr. David Mirhady, President of the Confederation of University Faculty Associations of British Columbia (CUFA BC).

In January, the professors’ organization issued a questionnaire to the leadership candidates of both the Liberal and New Democratic parties asking them to articulate their positions on a number of key issues in the post-secondary education sector. To date, not one of the leadership candidates has responded to the questionnaire.

“Given the vital role of post-secondary education to the future economic and cultural prosperity of British Columbia, we thought the leadership candidates would have jumped at the chance to tell us what they would do differently,” Dr. Mirhady said. “In two weeks time we will have a new Premier, and we have no idea how he or she plans to sustain and improve the quality of higher education and research in this province.”

The 2010 budget froze funding for the province’s universities, colleges and institutes for three years. Because of the effects of non-salary inflation this results in an effective 2% cut each year. The 2011 budget extends this non-plan for an additional year.

“Students have seen their tuition fees rise 2% every year, and professors have accepted two-year wage freezes,” Dr. Mirhady said. “It’s only the government that is letting BC’s universities fall behind. Facing similar fiscal difficulties, Ontario and Alberta have continued making substantial investments in post-secondary education.”

“The new Premier must move quickly stop the degradation in the quality of education and research, and work with the post-secondary education sector to set a new and more productive path,” Dr. Mirhady said.

CUFA BC represents 4,600 university professors, instructors, academic librarians and other academic staff at SFU (Burnaby, Vancouver and Surrey campuses), UBC (Vancouver and Kelowna campuses), UNBC (Prince George, Terrace, Fort St. John and Quesnel campuses), UVic and Royal Roads University.