Col­lege busi­ness model must change

Toronto Star - - WORLD -

Re Don’t let On­tario’s col­lege sys­tem suf­fo­cate it­self, Cohn, Nov. 9 At some point the es­sen­tial na­ture (if any) of On­tario’s col­leges must be ad­dressed. Martin Regg Cohn seems to think that they are glo­ri­fied trade schools that are not ma­te­ri­ally dif­fer­ent from high schools and don’t merit in­clu­sion in the con­ver­sa­tion about “aca­demic free­dom.”

In the al­ter­na­tive, Bill Davis’ orig­i­nal man­date re­quired only that the col­leges fo­cus on ap­plied, not the­o­ret­i­cal knowl­edge. Col­leges were to be aca­dem­i­cally com­pa­ra­ble to uni­ver­si­ties, but more fi­nan­cially ac­ces­si­ble.

Over the past 50 years (I’ve been teach­ing at Seneca for over 48), many col­leges en­tered into “ar­tic­u­la­tion agree­ments” with uni­ver­si­ties to pro­duce joined diploma/de­grees (Seneca and York of­fer half a dozen). We have a healthy tol­er­ance for am­bi­gu­ity, but this looks a lot more like chaos. Un­til such mat­ters are clar­i­fied, em­ployer-em­ployee re­la­tions will con­tinue to de­te­ri­o­rate and chronic dis­putes over the col­leges’ “busi­ness model” will worsen. Howard Doughty, Richmond Hill As a con­tract fac­ulty mem­ber in the univer­sity sys­tem, I’ve been fol­low­ing the col­lege fac­ulty strike with great in­ter­est. The prob- lem of pre­car­i­ous, short-term, con­tract work in the uni­ver­si­ties is bad enough, but it’s even worse in On­tario’s col­leges.

I agree with Cohn that it’s un­for­tu­nate the strike has con­tin­ued for close to a month now. How­ever, I think the blame rests on the col­lege em­ploy­ers and the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment.

Col­lege em­ploy­ers are not of­fer­ing real ac­tion or even a de­cent com­pro­mise around the ex­cess amount of con­tract work. The em­ploy­ers are still propos­ing con­ces­sions. From my per­spec­tive, the only real op­tion is for the col­lege fac­ulty to re­ject this bad deal and have the two sides sit down and bar­gain. And the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment needs to make it clear that they want to im­prove the post-sec­ondary ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem for fac­ulty and for stu­dents. Mur­ray Cooke, Toronto

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