University Profs Give Major Parties ‘Incomplete’ Grades

Created 9 May 2005 18:05

The organization representing BC’s public university professors today said that all three major political parties have failed to provide a comprehensive election platform for improving post-secondary education in British Columbia.

“We are disappointed that neither the Liberals, the NDP nor the Greens has offered British Columbians a complete plan to improve BC’s post-secondary education system,” said Norma Wieland, President of the Confederation of University Faculty Associations of BC (CUFA/BC). “If I had to assign a grade to the parties on their post-secondary education platforms so far, they would all receive a grade of ‘incomplete.’ ”

In their election platforms, the Liberals have promised to continue with plans to expand the post-secondary education system and to limit tuition fee increases, the New Democrats have promised to freeze tuition fees, reinstate grants for needy students and increase apprenticeship training, and the Greens have promised to reduce tuition fees, create new bursary and loan forgiveness programs, and improve industry training.

“None of the major parties appears to understand that a high quality and accessible post-secondary education system requires balancing several components,” Wieland said. “For example, you can expand the number of student spaces, but if universities are not given sufficient funding to do so, it means that quality is affected or tuition fees rise. If tuition fees rise, you then have to make more student financial assistance available to ensure equitable access.”

CUFA/BC has been analyzing post-secondary issues on its weblog (or blog) located at: www.cufa.bc.ca/blogs. The topics discussed to date include the lack of planning in making student financial assistance program changes, on-going shortfalls in funding for universities, and the pent-up student demand for university education.

“We thought that the parties would use the fixed election date to prepare comprehensive approaches to dealing with the demand for high-quality post-secondary education,” Wieland continued, “but none of them has put all the pieces together. We hope that in the last week of the campaign we see more emphasis placed on a ‘big picture’ for BC post-secondary education.”

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CUFA/BC represents over 3,800 university professors, instructors, professional librarians, and other academic staff at the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, University of Victoria, University of Northern British Columbia and Royal Roads University.

For further information contact: Robert Clift, Executive Director, (604) 817-1649 (24 Hours)