Strengthening Ontario's Universities: 2000 for 2000
Western advocates a major provincial government initiative in educational enhancement for universities in Ontario. Specifically, this would involve a government commitment to increase the number of full-time academic faculty in Ontario universities by 2000 over five years, beginning in 1999-2000. In the knowledge-based economy, universities promote jobs, growth, and new businesses which benefit all society, including those who do not attend universities or attain university degrees. Investment in universities is a good move for Ontario
· In the decade 1987-1997, regular, full-time teaching staff at Ontario universities fell from 13,085 to11,750, a drop of over 10%.
· During that same period, student/faculty ratios increased by 29%: in 1987, there were 16.4 students per full-time faculty member; in 1997 there were 21.1.
· In 1987, Ontario universities granted 45,611 undergraduate degrees; 7076 Masters degrees; and 1071 Ph.D. Degrees. In 1996, the corresponding figures were: 56,528 undergraduate degrees; 7076 Masters degrees; and 1605 Ph.D. degrees, an increase of nearly 25%.
· This means students in Ontario universities have less direct, personal contact with professors and that they spend more of their university careers in large classes.
· Changes in the Ontario secondary schools may bring as many as many as 45,000 EXTRA applicants into the system by 2003. These cannot be accommodated by existing resources in the province's universities.
What we propose: "2000 for 2000"
· Beginning in 1999-2000, create 400 new teaching positions each year for five years in Ontario universities.
· Distribute positions among universities in correlation with BIU enrolment and fund each position at a fixed rate of $50,000. Institutions may "top up" from their own operating funds in the case of more costly appointments.
· Commit the expenditure of $100M by 2004, to accommodate increased enrolments and counter the erosion of full-time teachers over the past decade.
· Will result in improvement of educational quality and renewal of the academic environment for Ontario's university students - in the classroom, the laboratory, the library and across the campus.
· Will allow universities to rebuild integral human and physical infrastructure which has been sacrificed in meeting budget cuts throughout the 1990s. During the last decade at Western, for example, full-time employment of staff has dropped more sharply than that of teaching faculty (27% vs. 12.7%), and staff numbers must also be increased in number if the University is to fulfill its mission. The increased flexibility afforded by "2000 by 2000" would allow Western to address other pressing issues, first among them hiring new staff and enhancing training programs for existing staff.
· Will partially alleviate the decimation of faculty ranks and bring outstanding new faculty members to teach and do cutting-edge research in Ontario.
· Will reduce class sizes and increase contact between individual students and professors.
· Will position Ontario to be a leader in the knowledge-based economy through developing a highly educated and intellectually creative workforce.
· Will assist Ontario's universities in making their fundamental contribution to the economic, social, and cultural future of this province and of Canada--for all those who attend those universities and for all Ontarians and Canadians who will share the benefits of this wise investment.