OPINION – UNIVERSITIES, AND THEIR STUDENTS, DESERVE BETTER
December 18, 2018
Keith Doucette’s recent article highlighted the Nova Scotia Department of Labour and Advanced Education’s recent funding announcement – over $6 million in funding to St Francis Xavier University, and King’s College, two of Nova Scotia’s ten universities. This funding, according to Minister Kousoulis, will help the universities “stabilize their financial positions.”
This is the second time in two years that NS universities have received emergency funding from the government, and the second time such funding was announced after the fact, leaving members of the Association of Nova Scotia University Teachers (ANSUT) wondering how these financial handouts are reached. While we don’t begrudge St. FX and Kings the funding, it is concerning that the government continues to underfund all Nova Scotia universities, creating situations where emergency bailouts are necessary. Even with the unreasonable increases forced onto students through tuition, our universities (and our students) struggle to make ends meet.
Provincial funding ($349 million in 2010), was decreased by 10% between 2011 and 2013. Even with modest increases of 1% since 2014, funding is substantially beneath the level it should be had those increases continued uninterrupted, resulting in an estimated loss of well over $49 million funding for post-secondary education. Universities across the province are struggling. Sufficient funding would obviate the need to provide occasional slap-dash funding to particular universities in a non-transparent manner.
By passing Bill 100 in 2015, the Liberal government in Nova Scotia has made it virtually impossible for universities even to request additional funding without risking their autonomy and the academic freedom and collective bargaining rights of their faculty.
University Presidents and Boards also have a hand in this. Administrative expenses and infrastructure are increasingly prioritized ahead of teaching and research expenses. This has to stop. But so too does the chronic underfunding of our universities. Universities, and their students, deserve better than a band-aid solution.
ANSUT represents over 1,400 full-time faculty, librarians, and contract academic staff in Nova Scotia. ANSUT’s vision is to provide its member Associations with the strongest possible voice on Post-Secondary Education issues in the province of Nova Scotia, and to advance its mission by engaging the active participation of its members, both individually and institutionally, to achieve that end.
Scott Stewart, President Teresa Workman, Communications Manager
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