CAUT and the Canadian Federation of Students are launching a national campaign this month to highlight the impact of skyrocketing tuition fees on access to post-secondary education in Canada.
The two groups are organizing a national forum on access to be held in Ottawa on April 3 to consider ways that barriers to post-secondary education can be eliminated.
"Everyone seems to agree that education is the key to our future, but very few are proposing ways that we can stop fees from rising," said Ian Boyko, national chairperson of the CFS.
"I think this forum will allow us to put the issue squarely onto the public agenda and to engage other organizations that are sympathetic to our concerns but have until now been relatively silent."
CAUT president Victor Catano says CAUT proposed the idea of a joint campaign after hearing from large numbers of faculty members concerned about accessibility and affordability.
"More and more, I'm finding faculty members are concerned that, with the cost of tuition rising higher and higher, our institutions are in danger of returning to their elitist roots," Catano said, adding, "I'm also hearing from a lot of younger faculty being hired out of graduate school who are really struggling to pay off their student loans and to make ends meet."
Catano says that academic staff everyday see first hand the difficulties faced by many students who are forced to sacrifice their studies in order to work to pay for their education.
"We have students who are often holding down two and three part-time jobs. They just can't devote the time and energy they should to their studies," he said.
In separate initiatives, CAUT and CFS are sponsoring a series of regional events prior to the April forum. The first will be held in Vancouver Jan. 16. Other events are planned for Winnipeg, Sudbury, Toronto and Sydney.