Peter Fenrich, FSA President
On August 22nd, I attended the inaugural meeting of the CAUT College and Institute Academic Staff Committee (CIASC). The CIASC is appointed by and reports to the Executive Committee of CAUT (Canadian Association of University Teachers). The mandate is to advise on issues relating to academic staff working in colleges and institutes across Canada.
The committee was formed with the potential concern that much of the work that CAUT focuses on revolves around universities. Consequently, the issues of colleges and institutes might not be heard well enough and acted upon. It is anticipated that there will be differences in some issues of colleges and institutes as compared to those of universities. Naturally, many issues, such as academic freedom, will be common across the post-secondary sector.
There were numerous topics discussed including:
- CAUT facts and figures related to current economic conditions (e.g., Canada’s economy grew less than expected), bargaining trends (e.g., many administrations wait to settle until job action is imminent), and recent settlements (that are in line with our current government’s mandate and our previous government’s mandates).
- Rationales for the need of academic freedom. Essentially the rationales stem around quality education and control over academic decisions, online learning and workload, intellectual property and job security, and a voice in our work environment and in the system.
- The final report of the CAUT ad hoc working group on governance. The report recommends that an ad hoc group review the results of the governance survey, review related policy statements, study the governance-related issues in collective agreements, oversee the development of a governance assessment instrument, and create resources for CAUT members.
- The settlement agreement regarding the Canada Research Chairs program. This was an equity issue.
- The guidelines for the use of copyrighted materials.
- How climate change can be brought into collective agreements.
- Issues created from the current Ontario government’s policies, such as wanting to claw back salaries of professors who have retired and are then hired again into their position (i.e., double-dipping) and the wage restraint legislation (i.e., what the past BC governments have done).
- The Alberta government’s Wage Arbitration Deferral Act. This is important because other provincial/territorial governments might copy that.
- The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) report on student evaluations of teaching. In general, research results show that student evaluations of teaching have weak or negative associations with instructor effectiveness. Findings show that the results are neither reliable nor valid.
- International education in British Columbia – the issues of which will not be surprising to you as FSA members.
- There is a growing reliance on the income and this seems to be the main motivator for accepting international students.
- Student language competencies are suspect because the tests are often not written in Canada.
- Students can be unprepared with respect to language skills, academic proficiency, and academic skills.
- A significant amount of research needs to be done in the field of international education.
- Issues regarding contracting out. Contracting out is permissible unless the collective agreement has provisions in it that states otherwise. Fortunately, at the FSA we have provisions for this in our collective agreement. That, of course, does not mean that management always follows the rules.
This was the first meeting for the CIASC. It will take time to see how the investment of participating in the committee will support the FSA and the priorities of you, our members.
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