Press Release

College faculty back students’ fight for quality, accessible education

Publication Date

Wednesday, November 2, 2016 - 9:15am

TORONTO – Ontario college faculty represented by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) are throwing their support behind today’s Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) National Day of Action, which aims to keep colleges and universities public and accessible to all.

“Faculty are deeply worried about the quality of education in the face of funding cutbacks and creeping privatization,” said RM Kennedy, chair of OPSEU’s College Academic Division. “We stand with the CFS in highlighting the need for proper government funding. Without it, we see college administrators looking to trim budgets by replacing in-class contact hours with self-directed learning. In other cases, faculty are increasingly marginalized from academic decision-making, with administrators unilaterally deciding how courses should be delivered, and even what grades should be assigned.

“Without academic freedom, and a protected role for faculty in academic decision-making, we are seeing too many decisions made based on what’s best for budgets, rather than what’s best for students.”

OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas said the CFS campaign is important because it takes on the challenge of underfunding directly. The campaign engages students and community members to save the system as the open, accessible, public system it was intended to be, he said.

“Ontario has the dubious distinction of providing the lowest per-student college funding of any province,” said Thomas. “This has to change. Colleges play an important role in increasing access to education, particularly for marginalized groups that have been under-represented in higher learning for far too long.”

“Unfortunately, whether it’s the growing use of low-paid contract faculty, or the decision to treat McDonald’s training as equivalent to college education, it’s students that are paying the price of an underfunded system.”

In a letter sent to the CFS’s chairperson Bilan Arte earlier this month, Thomas commended the CFS for its continued leadership and vowed to keep supporting students: “Together, we will build a better society, where high-quality public education is accessible to all.”

For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931