In September 2009, five Canadian universities proposed to change the way our Post Secondary Education system is organized and funded in Canada. The University of British Columbia, University of Alberta, University of Toronto, McGill University and the Université de Montréal, now known as the “BIG 5”, proposed the division of our current public system where universities would become either a research intensive or a teaching institution and would specialize in either graduate or undergraduate education. Federal funds would be differentially allocated according to the financial needs of the few universities who “specialize” in research and graduate teaching, and all others who specialize in teaching and undergraduate education. They claim this proposal to be in the interest of “world class” research, innovation and global competitiveness.
The BIG 5 proposal is a response to this funding crisis that signals to us that our academic institutions are beginning to engage in a battle amongst themselves for scarce resources and proper funding.