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CAUT Bulletin Archives

September 2002

Liberals Challenged to Up PSE Funding

Liberal MPs attending a national caucus meeting in Quebec last month were warned that years of federal underfunding have seriously undermined the country's universities and colleges.

CAUT executive director James Turk issued the warning during an invited presentation to members of the government's post-secondary education caucus.

"You have the choice of leaving behind a legacy either as the government that rebuilt Canada's post-secondary education system, or as the government that effectively undermined it," Turk said.

Since the Liberal government first took power in 1993, federal cash contributions to the provinces to help support the core operating costs of universities and colleges have declined by 14 per cent when measured on a per capita basis and adjusted for inflation.

"The impact of these reductions isn't difficult to see ... rising tuition fees and student debt, fewer faculty, larger classes, reduced library holdings, and buildings and facilities that are literally falling apart," Turk said. "The situation is simply not sustainable."

"Just to get federal cash payments back to where they were in 1993, as a share of our economy, would require an immediate investment of $1.4 billion," he added.

"We're happy the government has put more money into research in recent years. But the really pressing problems that face our institutions today - from skyrocketing fees to the need to hire new faculty - stem from the continuing shortfall in core operating funding. As long as the government continues to ignore this basic fact, these problems are here to stay."