Federation calls for emergency summit of post-secondary leaders
"The Minister of Advanced Education is trying to pretend that everything is okay," said Cindy Oliver, President of the Federation of Post-Secondary Educators. "He's wrong. Everything is not okay in post-secondary education since he unilaterally cut proposed funding by 2.6%. Now our colleges and universities are scrambling to deal with deficits and cutting programs to try and meet the Minister's new budget target. We think it's time that post-secondary education leaders sat in the same room and drafted a coordinated strategy to restore funding, instead of accepting the Minister's wrong-headed approach," Oliver added.
Public post-secondary institutions across the province were told in mid-March that the Ministry would be cutting the indicated level of funding for individual institutions by 2.6% effective April 1st, 2008. Prior to the mid-March meeting, post-secondary institutions were budgeting on funding assumptions that were first indicated in the February 19th provincial budget. The mid-March announcement by the Minister caught many college and university presidents by surprise and has forced post-secondary institutions to re-draft their budgets and to reduce program offerings.
"I have written to post-secondary institution presidents asking them to meet with us and discuss ways we can press for this funding to be restored. If we can present a united front on this issue, it will go a long way to making this government reconsider their actions. We know BC needs to invest more in public post-secondary education: just look at the growing skills shortage we have. You won't solve that shortage with these cuts. You'll only make the problem worse," Oliver noted. "It's also worth noting that a September 2007 Ipsos poll showed that over three-quarters of British Columbians support the idea of investing more in public post-secondary institutions as a way to address the skills shortage. The provincial government should consider those numbers before it presses ahead with these cuts," Oliver concluded.
Click here to read Cindy Oliver's letter to post-secondary institution presidents.
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The Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of BC is the provincial voice for faculty and staff in BC teaching universities, colleges and institutes, and in private sector institutions. FPSE member locals, represented by Presidents' Council and the Executive, represent over 10,000 faculty and staff at 18 public and 12 private sector institutions.