Report of the 259th Meeting of the Council of Ontario Universities
Thursday and Friday, February 14 and 15, 2002
D.M.R. Bentley, Academic Colleague
At the meetings of the Academic Colleagues and Council discussions focused on four matters that will be of interest to Senate.
The matter is complicated by the PC leadership race, which will not be decided until March 23. Very clearly, the two candidates who are emerging as front-runners, Ernie Eves and Jim Flaherty, are Conservatives of quite different stripes and agendas, no t least with respect to post-secondary education. (There may be some comfort to be drawn form the fact that Michael Gourley, once again displaying the capacity for self-transformation that he perhaps acquired during his brief stint as Polkaroo, is Chief Policy Advisor to Mr. Eves.) To assist in clarifying the educational agendas of all the leadership candidates, COU has prepared a list of questions, their answers to which will be made publicly available.*
(3) Marks Comparability. On the basis of the limited data available from Grade 10, there appears to be less disparity between the marks being awarded to students in the "old" and new curricula than some reports in the media have suggested. Across the system as a whole, students taking the new curriculum are getting marks that are very slightly lower in some subjects (such as Mathematics) and slightly higher in others (such as French and History); however, there may well be wide divergences in the practices of individual teachers, schools, and school boards, and there is some evidence to suggest that students in the Applied stream are having greater difficulty with the new curriculum than students taking University and University/College courses.
(4) University of Ontario Institute of Technology. COU will tactfully attempt to persuade the Government of the folly of using the phrase "University of Ontario" in the bill (139) that will transform this particular egg into a caterpillar. It will also be attempting to ensure that, whatever it is called, the emerging institution will have a senate (or equivalent) as part of its governance structure and that its academic staff will have the protections normally accorded to university faculty.
All in all, the times seem to require from the universities and from Council a combination of nimble footwork, handkerchief fluttering, and stick brandishing that is distressingly similar to Morris dancing.
* Since this report was written, the COU letter has been dispatched to the candidates and Mr. Eves has replied that he is "proposing a second phase of the Ontario Student Opportunities Fund, to build on the commitment [he] made in a previous Budget" and stating his belief "that special provisions must be made and will be made to address the double-cohort issue."