Rimouski, QC – At the fourth preparatory meeting for the Rimouski Summit on Higher Education, employees from all Quebec universities will advocate for the establishment of a Quebec National University Charter. The university employees believe that Quebec universities should be a public service, without compromising their academic vocation.
Carole Neill, president of the Conseil Provincial du Secteur Universitaire (University Sector Provincial Council or CPSU, affiliated with CUPE), says that the crisis Quebec experienced last spring “Was the culmination of a deep malaise of which tuition is just a symptom. That is the crux of the matter. To identify that malaise, we need to ask, What kind of university do we want? And as a corollary, What kind of university should we finance?”
“We believe that the choice is clear: we want our universities to be responsive to the aspirations of our society and to contribute to its social, cultural and economic development. And that includes obligations to the various players within their own community.”
Defining the university we want for Quebec
In her presentation at Rimouski on Friday, the CPSU president will review the four types of universities identified by Claude Lessard, president of the Conseil Supérieur de l’Éducation. “Quebec,” she explains, “needs to chose the kind of university it wants. It must be clear about it. Otherwise, as a society, we risk repeating the same debates, or the same crises.”
The first type is the liberal university, where the transmission of knowledge is an end in itself.
The second type is the scientific university, which, through science and the positive method, pursues a primary mission of searching for the truth.
The third type is the public service university, which, without compromising its academic vocation, is an integral part of society, and a source of social, cultural and economic progress.
The fourth type is known as the entrepreneurial university, whose features include: 1) the acceleration of globalization; 2) the emergence of a knowledge-based economy; 3) the gradual withdrawal of the state from the funding of higher education; and 4) an emphasis on innovation in public policies for economic development.
An example to follow
Among its concrete proposals, the CPSU is recommending that every university should have an administrative unit dedicated to community service, along the lines of what UQAM has had for several years. “This model has proven its worth,” asserts Neill, “With invaluable benefits to the community.”
In her presentation on Friday, the CPSU president also will underline what has become the critical workload of support staff —the result of increased student enrolment, faculty, management personnel and real estate. We have demonstrated the degree to which this has had an impact on the quality of teaching and student services. In most universities, there has also been an increase in administrative personnel. “Unfortunately,” notes Neill, “the number of support staff has decreased or, at best, has stagnated. This has had its consequences: for example, in many institutions, we see an increase in sick days. As for the services rendered by these employees, we find that deadlines and quality are suffering.”
The Conseil Provincial du Secteur Universitaire (CPSU) represents some 10,400 workers in Quebec universities: support staff, most technical staff, trades, office workers, professional staff, tutors and lecturers.
For more information, please contact:
Mobile: 819 692-0391
Mobile: 514 247-9266