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University funding: governments paying less, students and families paying more

Figures released on September 16, 2002 by Statistics Canada report a dangerous trend towards privatization of our universities. In their annual survey of university finances, Statistics Canada found that in the 2000/01 year, student fees accounted for almost one-fifth of universities total revenue (compared to 12% a decade earlier). In Nova Scotia, students and their families paid for 27% of total university funding; in Ontario, the figure was 25%.

Overall, the share of university revenue from public sources dropped from 68% in 1990/91 to under 55% in 2000/01. One again, Nova Scotia and Ontario lead in this downward trend. Government contributions accounted for only 43% of university revenue in Nova Scotia and 48% in Ontario (representing a 7.8% decline in provincial funding). Quebec, on the other hand, had the highest proportion of government funding at 66%, and the lowest proportion of student fees at 11%.

Total university spending for 2000/01 rose 5.3% and although spending on salaries and benefits rose 4.5%, the share of total expenditures has steadily declined from 66% in 1992/3 to 58% in 2000/01. CUPE members heading into bargaining with their university employers have the right to demand improvements to their wages, working conditions and improved job security.

As provincial governments pull out their funds, it is clear that the federal government must play a larger role in supporting the core operating budgets of universities to keep fees low and accessibility high for all students.

CUPE will continue to fight against privatization of education, for increased funding to public higher education, the protection (and increase) of unionized public sector jobs within the post-secondary sector and an end to the downloading of education costs to students and working families.



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