Senate Agenda - EXHIBIT V - January 19, 2001
Report on the 253rd meeting of the Council of Ontario Universities
Friday, December 15, 2000
D.M.R. Bentley, Academic Colleague
At the meeting of Council several matters were discussed that will be of interest to Senate.
In reviewing the advocacy efforts of the COU during the past year, the President, Dr. Ian Clark, observed that, despite the universities' financial problems, the Government has yet to make a commitment with respect to operating funds for the post-secondary system, but also indicated that, in his view, the COU's reshaped advocacy strategy is beginning to have a positive effect in increasing recognition at least in the Ministry of the need for a multi-year funding commitment. The presence of a new and sympathetic deputy Minister is a positive development, albeit one that is somewhat offset by the apparent deafness of the Government to the "quality" issue, its conviction that when calculated on a per capita basis its contribution to post-secondary education is about average for Canadian jurisdictions, and its perception that the universities and the general public are satisfied with what it has already done for the sector through SuperBuild and other channels. It seems clear that the Government's goal remains that of catering to the maximum number of students at the minimum cost.
The fear was expressed by members of Council that the Government might re-open the teaching versus research debate, that it might judge universities and colleges by the same numerical criteria, and that it might follow the Quebec example and engage in bi-lateral discussions with individual institutions for the purpose of linking increased funding to performance (i.e., output) commitments.
With regard to university-college relations, it was observed that the universities are under attack by the colleges on three fronts: (1) Bill 132, which mandates applied degrees and seems likely to increase the colleges' appetite for degree-granting status; (2) the attribution of blame to the universities for problems in collaborative programmes in Nursing; and (3) the similar attribution of blame for problems in the area of the transportability of credits from college to university. All in all, it seems clear that the colleges have designs on the universities' application pool, and are likely to press in the near future for a common application form.
News from the Association of University and Colleges of Canada was also a curate's egg of optimism (the Federal Government appears to be warming to the idea of more funding for the granting councils, especially where such funding is directed towards graduate students) and pessimism (it appears to be cooling to the idea of more funding for the indirect costs of research, though this remains the AUCC's top priority). (Further complicating these issues is the fact that the presidents of the granting councils have apparently expressed opposition to the rate and model for funding the indirect costs of research that has been mooted by the Government.) Some headway has been made on increasing the flexibility of the two-tier hiring system, at least in the short term. The AUCC has struck an ad hoc committee on liberal education and is seeing positive results developing from its initiatives on international education, one possibility being the creation of a programme in the name of the late Pierre Trudeau.
There was a call for nominations for the David Smith Award and a briefing on a COU report-in-progress on the economic impact of universities in Ontario.
The meeting concluded with the presentation of a caricature to Dr. Edward Monahan, a former president of the Council of Ontario Universities, who is writing an unofficial history of the Council.