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CAUT Bulletin Archives

October 2006

CAUT Argues for Raise in Federal PSE Funds

The federal government needs to make post-secondary education funding a major priority of the next budget, CAUT told the House of Commons Finance Committee last month in Ottawa.

“A renewed federal role in post-secondary education is essential to ensure Canada’s universities and colleges can fulfill their mandate to promote the economic, social and cultural development of citizens, communities, regions and of the nation as a whole,” CAUT executive director James Turk told the committee. “Unfortunately, the chronic underfunding of Canada’s post-secondary education system is undermining our ability to reap these benefits.”

Turk noted that underfunding and funding cutbacks have led to “skyrocketing” tuition fees and student debt.

“In addition, the number of full-time university teachers is less than it was a decade ago, while the number of full-time students rose 26 per cent over the same period. And due to limited financial resources, the infrastructure of universities nationwide is in serious disrepair.”

He also said that faced with less public funding, universities and colleges are turning to private sector support, which is increasingly threatening the integrity of research and academic freedom.

In its brief to the committee, CAUT urged the government to focus on three main priorities for post-secondary education: 1) improving federal support for post-secondary education through a new dedicated and accountable federal cash transfer that provides the provinces with stable and predictable funding; 2) improving accessibility and reducing student debt; and 3) increasing investments in independent basic research.

“The federal government has played a decisive role in funding post-secondary education since the 1950s, when inconsistent and low levels of provincial funding for post-secondary education made it clear there had to be a federal and provincial role,” the CAUT brief says.

“Today, without the federal government and the provinces working together to ensure post-secondary education becomes a national priority, and without the federal government revitalizing its commitment, Canada’s universities and colleges are in serious jeopardy. The time for leadership and action is now.”