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CAUT Bulletin Archives

March 2006

Higher Education Leaders, Premiers Push for More Federal Funding

Canada’s provincial and territorial premiers invited more than 300 stakeholders to a national summit on post-secondary education and skills in Ottawa last month. The summit, called Competing for Tomorrow, was organized by the Council of the Federation of Canada and hosted by Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty and Quebec Premier Jean Charest.

Quality as Antidote

Frank Furedi’s commentary (“Becoming McUniversities,” Bulletin, February 2006) easily blames the standardization and homogenization of education in our universities on administrators who “compel” academics to adopt the managerial models and practices associated with McDonald’s hamburger chain. “We are increasingly forced,” he complains, “to work according to rules and practices that do not derive from academic culture but from a managerial one.” Blaming the administration and the pressures of market forces for the deterioration of the university curriculum is a most enjoyable pastime to would-be rebellious academics.

Equity Diminishes Quality

Michael Manson’s assertion in his letter (“Equity Does Not Exclude Quality,” Bulletin, February 2006) is true enough in a strictly logical sense. But in reality “equity” will have a tendency to diminish quality. Equity considerations bureaucratically handcuff those who attempt to make decisions on the basis of merit. Such considerations will instill enough fear or nervousness in those making decisions that they will tend to go for the decision which would be favoured by the equity activists, rather than risk a nasty and divisive fight.

Canada to Investigate Use of Thumbprint for Law School Test

Canada’s privacy commissioner has launched a joint investigation with its counterparts in Alberta and British Columbia to determine whether the practice of requiring students taking the Law School Admission Test to provide an imprint of their thumb violates the law.

Solidarity is Nothing to Fear

Why do some people find the word “solidarity” so unnerving? Webster’s dictionary defines it as: “The state of being solidly united in support of common interests, rights, etc.” One colleague explained that solidarity made him feel uncomfortable because he values his individuality and doesn’t like the idea of being overwhelmed by a collective impetus. But he also admitted to never having attended a meeting of his faculty association. I urged him to go to the meetings. Anyone who has ever attended an association meeting quickly discovers that collective interests do exist, that collective rights need protecting and that these benefit many individuals.

Challenging Ageism in the Academy

In December of this year, Ontario will become only the second province in Canada (after Quebec) to banish one of the most disturbing practices of universities — the forced removal of productive and capable faculty members. Mounting opposition at the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University and the University of Alberta, among others, suggests mandatory retirement will soon be shelved there also. It is about time.

New CAUT Group on Aboriginal Education

CAUT has created a special working group on aboriginal post-secondary education. The group will advise CAUT about how it can effectively intervene to help ensure Canada’s post-secondary educational system meets the needs of First Nations and other aboriginal students.

The Access Principle: The Case for Open Access to Research and Scholarship

Questions about access to scholarship go back farther than recent debates over subscription prices, rights, and electronic archives suggest

The True Genius of America at Risk: Are We Losing Our Public Universities to de Facto Privatization?

A perfect storm of fiscal and political trends is rapidly forcing the privatization of America’s public universities

Captured by Private Interests

David Bollier’s Silent Theft: The Private Plunder of our Common Wealth is an important contribution to an understanding of how public assets — resources held for the common good in society — are increasingly being appropriated by the private sector. Using the notion of the commons as an organizing metaphor, Bollier weaves together a diverse set of examples from the physical environment, agriculture, computer programming, university research, culture and publishing to present a coherent analysis of the erosion of gift economies in the face of private enclosures.

CAUT Names New Professional Officer

Kerry Pither recently joined the professional staff of CAUT’s research and communications group.

Income Tax Promises: A Broad Snapshot

There were numerous income tax changes proposed by the previous federal government in last year’s economic and fiscal update. However, it is important to note that with the defeat of the minority Liberal government these proposals were not enacted into law. Moreover, the Conservative party specifically campaigned against some of the proposals included in these documents. It is unclear with the current political situation to what extent these proposals will be enacted.