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Government of Ontario cuts funding to teacher education programs
On Wednesday, June 5, 2013, the Government of Ontario announced significant changes to teacher education in Ontario. Unfortunately, they chose to accompany their curriculum changes with a 33 per cent cut to per-student funding for teacher colleges.
 
OCUFA writes letter to Saint Paul University over troubling labour developments
On May 27, 2013, OCUFA President Constance Adamson wrote a letter to Rector Chantal Beauvais of Saint Paul University, regarding troubling labour developments at the university. The administration, claiming financial exigency, are terminating academic positions despite the fact that no provision for this type of termination exists in the current collective agreement.
 
OCUFA announces winner of Mandelbaum Fellowship
OCUFA is pleased to announce this year’s winner of the Mandelabum Fellowship: Sarah Pavan, a doctoral candidate in political studies at Queen’s University.
 
Data Check: Ontario universities perform well in terms of graduation rates
Critics of the productivity of Ontario’s universities need to check their facts. Ontario universities are doing much better than their American peers when it comes to graduation rates.
 
Government of Ontario cuts funding to teacher education programs
On Wednesday, June 5, 2013, the Government of Ontario announced significant changes to teacher education in Ontario. Unfortunately, they chose to accompany their curriculum changes with a 33 per cent cut to per-student funding for teacher colleges.
 
Some of the structural changes – doubling the length of teacher education from one year to two years – were expected, and will help bring Ontario in line with programs elsewhere in Canada. Other changes –such as halving enrolment from 9,000 to 4,500 places – were a surprise. Most troubling was the decision to cut per-student funding by 33 per cent, a change made without any consultation with the sector, according to university sources. As Bonnie Patterson, President of COU notes, “reducing government funding for teacher education when Ontario universities are providing top-notch education, despite the country’s lowest rate of per student funding, disadvantages students, and threatens quality.”
 
The government’s changes echo cuts to medical education programs in the early 1990s, which left Ontario chronically short of qualified family doctors. The government has a poor record of predicting labour market needs, and their changes to teacher education may have significant, and unforeseen, negative downstream effects.
 
It is important for the Government of Ontario to recognize that its primary role in the university sector is the provision of public funding that allows for high quality and affordable education. Wednesday’s announcement is the latest example of the government’s slow retreat from adequate funding and increased willingness to interfere in academic planning.
 
OCUFA writes letter to Saint Paul University over troubling labour developments
On May 27, 2013, OCUFA President Constance Adamson wrote a letter to Rector Chantal Beauvais of Saint Paul University, regarding troubling labour developments at the university. The administration, claiming financial exigency, are terminating academic positions despite the fact that no provision for this type of termination exists in the current collective agreement. Here is the full text of the letter.

Dear Rector Beauvais;

I am writing this letter to urge the administration of Saint Paul University to reverse its threat to terminate faculty members within the Faculty of Theology. These actions are extreme, and will result in serious harm to the Faculty, those who work within it, and its students.

On behalf of OCUFA and the 17,000 professors and academic librarians it represents, I would request that the following measures be taken to correct this situation:
  • Honour the collective agreement with the Professors’ Association of Saint Paul University (PASPU), which does not include an article that defines the procedures under which faculty members may be terminated in a case of financial exigency.
  • Cease plans to fire tenured professors in the Faculty of Theology (or any other faculty), in an attempt to decrease the deficit. During the consultation and round-tables held this Spring at Saint Paul, the university community expressed strong support for the continuation of the institution’s Catholic mission and identity.
  • Reinstate Alice Constantinou, the professional librarian who was fired on May 15th. Saint Paul’s current lack of even one professional librarian leaves a significant hole in its reputation as a well-functioning academic institution.
  • Provide full transparency of the University’s finances, debts, and resources to PASPU and the university community. This will help the broader Saint Paul community determine to what extent the actions that are planned, and have taken place, are justifiable.
OCUFA is aware that, in addition to the termination of Alice Constantinou, three staff members in Theology have been terminated. OCUFA is also aware that other faculty members have been transferred to different Faculties and early retirements have occurred. And yet, your administration believes that the actions taken thus far have not significantly affected the deficit.

Will further terminations and related actions similarly be insignificant with respect to the budget while imposing a heavy cost on those who face losing their current appointments? This is a critical question I urge you to consider.

I welcome any opportunity to discuss these matters with you further. I believe we share the goal of preserving the future of Saint Paul University as a viable academic institution. In the interest of achieving this goal while protecting Saint Paul’s professors and librarians, I again urge you to take the actions I have outlined in this letter.

Sincerely,
Constance Adamson, President, OCUFA

OCUFA announces winner of Mandelbaum Fellowship
OCUFA is pleased to announce this year’s winner of the Mandelabum Fellowship: Sarah Pavan, a doctoral candidate in political studies at Queen’s University.
 
Sarah is an outstanding student, receiving high marks throughout her coursework and a “Distinction” for her comprehensive exams, a rare honour. In addition to her first-class academics, the fellowship jury was particularly struck by Sarah’s strong community and volunteer service. While studying in Rome for her bachelor’s degree, Sarah additionally received training and spent two years working as a social worker and counselor in women’s shelters. She also spent eight-months in San Salvador as a volunteer promoting sustainable development and community building in the aftermath of the civil war. She is also active in supporting international students at Queen’s in both formal and informal roles.

One professor described Sarah as, “one of the best two PhD students I have worked with in my career, which now spans three decades.” Another remarked that, “I have great confidence that her dissertation will be an important contribution to the field of comparative politics, as well as work on ethnicity, diversity, representation, and political behaviour.”

The Mandelbaum Fellowship was establish to honor Henry Mandelbaum, Executive Director of OCUFA from 1995-2011.  The fellowship is awarded to a graduate student “who has demonstrated academic excellence, shows exceptional academic promise, and has provided significant community service in his/her university career.” For more information, please visit http://ocufa.on.ca/ocufa-awards/
 
Data Check: Ontario universities perform well in terms of graduation rates
Critics of the productivity of Ontario’s universities need to check their facts.
 
Ontario universities are doing much better than their American peers when it comes to graduation rates. Over the last decade, the overall graduation rate amongst undergraduates in Ontario has been steadily improving. The latest data show it at 81 per cent. Once first professional subjects such as law and medicine are taken out of the mix to ensure comparability with US data, the province-wide graduation rate for 2010 is 80 per cent.
 
The US National Center for Education Statistics recently released data on 2011 retention and graduation rates. The national average amongst students seeking a bachelor’s degree was 59 per cent. Private, non-profit institutions rate of 65 per cent was the best US average by institution type. The average graduation rate across public institutions was 57 per cent. Private, for-profit universities fared even worse, graduating just 42 per cent of its first-time undergraduates within the same time frame.
 
More to the point, Ontario is doing this with considerably less per-student funding than their American peers. In 2011, average per-student public funding at US public four-year institutions was $9,416 and only $8,372 in Ontario. How’s that for productivity?
 
Sources:
National Center for Education Statistics, The Condition of Education
Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, Graduation, Job And OSAP Default Rates


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