OCUFA News « WLUFA

Ontario Online Learning Consortium

December 2nd, 2014

The following is an update from OCUFA President Kate Lawson regarding faculty representation on the Ontario Online Learning Consortium and related issues.

 

Dear Colleagues,

 

I am writing to provide an update regarding faculty representation on the Governing Board of the Ontario Online Learning Consortium (OOLC). OOLC is the online learning initiative directed by the Council of Ontario Universities/Colleges Ontario and funded by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.

 

Those of you who were at the October 25 Board meeting will recall the lively discussion about the need for faculty representation on the governing body of OOLC. The Board requested that we provide a template letter for member associations to send to government asking for such representation. However, as I outline below, we seem to have been successful in our quest to have a faculty nominee on the Board of OOLC and thus the template letter does not seem to be required at this time.

 

I detail our current understanding of the structure of OOLC below, but I want to assure you that I will contact you again should we need to revive the letter-writing campaign. I also want to stress that we will advocate vigorously for faculty representation on other relevant committees that the OOLC may create in the future.

 

On November 6, I received a letter from Rhonda Lenton, the co-chair of the Ontario Online Steering Committee, that asked that “OCUFA provide a short list of individuals who would have expertise to help guide the new consortium as a director.”  I have notified Dr. Lenton that we will be pleased to participate in the nomination process and will be submitting names of faculty with experience in online education as nominees.

 

The OOLC Steering Committee has been tasked with getting the new entity up and running, including soliciting membership from Ontario universities and colleges and overseeing a process for the appointment of the first Governing Board. My understanding is that college and university OOLC members will elect the majority of the Board, made up of senior administrators from both colleges and universities. These Board members will then be asked to develop a process for election of other Directors or be delegated the authority to appoint other Directors, including students, members of the general public, and academic experts in online learning.

 

In other online learning news, let me remind you of the upcoming OCUFA workshop on e-learning to be held on March 20. I hope that you or a representative will be able to attend.

 

In addition, we continue to work on both expanding of the membership of the OCUFA ad hoc Committee on Online Learning and on developing a website and a checklist for faculty considering online courses/programs. With regard to the former, please contact me if you would like to suggest the names of faculty members or academic librarians who have expertise in this area and who would be interested in joining the ad hoc committee.

 

Sincerely,

Kate Lawson

President, OCUFA

 

 

The implications the 2014 Ontario election for higher education

June 13th, 2014

Dear Colleagues:

The election of a majority Liberal government in the June 12, 2014 Ontario election has a number of important implications for higher education in the province.

During the election, OCUFA analyzed the higher education platforms of the Liberal Party as well as those of the other main parties, posted the response of the parties to the OCUFA questionnaire, and provided a platform report card. That information can be found on the Ontario election section of the OCUFA website: http://ocufa.on.ca/ontario-election-2014/

In many ways, the newly-elected Liberal government’s direction for higher education will be a continuation of funding and policy initiatives already underway. Those initiatives were reiterated in the 2014 Ontario Budget, which triggered the June 12 election. Premier Wynne has stated her intention to recall the Legislature within the next 20 days, deliver a Throne Speech, and re-table the 2014 Budget.

The 2014 Budget contains a “roadmap” for government spending and policy directions in higher education and in other policy and program areas over the next few years. In terms of university funding, there will be a continuation of a multi-year operating funding originally announced in the 2012 Budget. The McGuinty and then Wynne governments committed to increasing by 60,000 the number of government-funded student places provided by Ontario colleges and universities by 2017-18. [The figure for universities is 41,000].

Over the next three years, operating funding is scheduled to increase by almost 3%. Taking account of inflation and enrolment growth, however, operating funding will actually decline. For universities, there will be a real drop in total funding — more like 2.5 per cent. Funding per “eligible” student – those for whom universities receive provincial operating support – will fall 7.5 per cent over the next three years. As OCUFA noted in its analysis of the 2014 Budget, real per student provincial funding has been falling since 2008-09, but this coming year it will be its lowest since the Liberals came to power in 2003. By the end of the current planning horizon, it would be its lowest since the expansion started in the sixties. Funding reductions, originally announced in the 2012 Budget, for “policy lever efficiencies”, the international student head tax, and teacher education will also stay in place. And Ontario will remain in last place in operating funding per student compared to other Canadian provinces, and continue to have the highest student/faculty ratios in the country.

Funding in other areas of university operations will also be increased but fall short of need. There will be additional $500 million over 10 years for deferred maintenance. This is still a long way from the average $380 million per year the Council of Ontario Universities (COU) estimates is required simply to maintain the existing infrastructure. Research infrastructure will receive $250 million over three years, and there will be some new funding for specific research initiatives, such as the Institute for Quantum Computing at the University of Waterloo and for the Trillium Advanced Manufacturing Network at Western.

In terms of the government funding implications for collective bargaining, while the government did not reiterate, as it has previously, its desire for 0% wage increases, it has stated that in the Broader Public Sector any increases in wages and salaries will have to come out of existing funds. The government will not provide extra funding to cover those increases. What that means specifically in practice for the university sector is yet to be determined but it will be no surprise that we are continuing an era of difficult bargaining and austerity funding. And, Ontario’s universities will continue to lack the financial resources they need to address the shortage of faculty hiring and quality improvements they require.

On the pension front, the government has announced directions in some areas that OCUFA has supported. In terms of pension asset pooling, it has stated any asset polling will be voluntary –that is, no pension plan will be forced to pool its assets in a larger plan. OCUFA has always maintained that any asset pooling must be voluntary. The 2014 Budget also announced it would create enabling legislation, necessary to allow single employer plans to be transferred to jointly sponsored pension plans. OCUFA has called for this in order that faculty associations interested in pursuing a multi-employer JSPP for the university sector can create such a plan. And OCUFA has also supported the creation of an Ontario Retirement Pension Plan to complement the Canadian Pension Plan – to enhance the retirement security of those who don’t have workplace pension plans.
In other policy directions, the push for greater “differentiation” of Ontario universities will continue, underpinned by the government’s differentiation policy framework released in November 2013, and the Strategic Mandate Agreements that all but two universities have recently signed. It remains to be seen how specifically the government will use funding to promote greater “differentiation”, but we know already that Strategic Mandate Agreements will guide new program approvals, as well as graduate space allocation. Changes to the funding formula are also being considered – but how the formula will be changed, and the degree to which “differentiation” and “outcomes” will be built into the formula, is unknown. OCUFA will be calling for public consultations and stakeholder input in any changes to the university funding formula, and directly engaging the government on this concern, as well as continuing to engage the government on its entire “differentiation” agenda.
The government is also committed to creating new satellite campuses, as part of its “Major Capital Expansion Policy Framework”, released in December 2013. Requests for proposals are due in September 2014. According to this policy, major expansion must support government priorities, including institutional differentiation, strategic enrolment management, and the need to address currently underserved areas of postsecondary demand. There has been no funding announced for this initiative to date. We will be engaging closely with the government on implementation and funding decisions to ensure that they support good outcomes for students and faculty. It will be important to strike the right balance between teaching and research at any new campus, and ensure that faculty who teach and research at them enjoy the same job security and working conditions as their colleagues on the main campus.
The government is committed as well to expand online education and credit transfer at universities and colleges. In January, the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, announced the creation of the Ontario Online Centre of Excellence to promote and facilitate great offering of online university and college courses. OCUFA’s online education ad hoc committee has met with the steering committee tasked with setting up Ontario Online, will be submitting a brief next week outlining faculty concerns, and will continue to engage with this initiative.
The dynamics of a majority government are very different from those of a minority, but OCUFA will continue to use the resources it has, and work with member associations, to advocate vigorously on behalf of faculty and academic librarians for the high quality, well-resourced, affordable and accessible university system that our students and Ontarians deserve.
Best regards,
Mark
——————————————————–
Mark Rosenfeld, Ph.D
Executive Director
Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations
17 Isabella Street
Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4Y 1M7
Tel: 416-979-2117 x229
Fax: 416-593-5607
E-mail: mrosenfeld@ocufa.on.ca
Web: www.ocufa.on.ca
www.academicmatters.ca
www.weteachontario.ca
Subscribe to the OCUFA Report

 

OCUFA Election Resources

June 10th, 2014

Good morning all,

 

With only a few days left before the election, I wanted to send around links to all of the election resources that OCUFA has put together in case you missed them when they were first posted.

 

I encourage you to distribute this information to your members, along with a reminder to send a message to local candidates and party leaders telling them to make higher education a priority, using the take action function on our election website: http://ocufa.on.ca/ontario-election-2014/

 

Platform report card:

http://ocufa.on.ca/assets/OCUFA-ElectionReportCard-FINAL.pdf

 

Long form platform analyses:

http://ocufa.on.ca/assets/PC-Platform-Long-form-analysis-FINAL.pdf

http://ocufa.on.ca/assets/OLP-Platform-Long-form-analysis-FINAL.pdf

http://ocufa.on.ca/assets/NDP-Platform-Long-form-analysis-FINAL.pdf

 

Responses to our higher education questionnaire:

http://ocufa.on.ca/assets/PC-Response.pdf

http://ocufa.on.ca/assets/OLP-Response.pdf

http://ocufa.on.ca/assets/NDP-Response.pdf

http://ocufa.on.ca/assets/GPO-Response.pdf

 

Video analysis of higher education and labour relations issues in the election:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EE3gILKRN-A

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sRQUpOj51d0

 

If you have any questions about any of the resources we’ve put together or need any additional information please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

 

Best,

Erica

 

Erica Rayment
Policy Analyst – Government and Community Relations
Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations
17 Isabella Street  Toronto, ON  M4Y 1M7
Office: 416-306-6032

 

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OCUFA Election webpage now live!

May 22nd, 2014

Good morning all,

 

The OCUFA election webpage is now live. You can access it at www.ocufa.on.ca/ontario-election-2014

 

The page currently includes a “take action” feature, that allows you to send an email to your local candidates and the party leaders urging them to make higher education a priority.

 

Under the resources tab, there is a copy of the survey that we have circulated to the party leaders and a toolkit for meeting the candidates and hosting an all candidates meeting here: OCUFA 2014 Election CommunicationPackage – May 13 2014 FINAL,  Party Survey FINAL. More resources, including expert analysis videos and analyses of the parties’ platforms will be posted as they become available, so check back often.

 

We would encourage you to circulate the link to everyone in your association, and to encourage your members to send an email to their local candidates using our “take action” form.

 

If you have any questions about the election webpage or about OCUFA’s election initiatives, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

 

Best,

Erica

 

Erica Rayment
Policy Analyst – Government and Community Relations
Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations
17 Isabella Street Toronto, ON M4Y 1M7
Office: 416-979-2117 x 223 | Mobile: 416-671-3230

 

Subscribe to OCUFA Report

 

OCUFA 50th anniversary

March 27th, 2014

Dear Colleagues:

In celebration of its 50th anniversary this year, OCUFA has planned a number of initiatives.

The first will be a history of OCUFA, highlighted in two ways: through a portable exhibit, and an interactive section of our website. Both components will be ready for unveiling at the October 24, 2014 OCUFA conference, “Faculty Associations on Campus: Past, Present and Future”, and the October 25-26, 2014 Board meeting.

The intention is that this will not be a dry institutional history, but rather a dynamic story that focuses on:

the environment in which OCUFA emerged and developed;
what shaped the organization in the context of changes in higher education, labour relations, and government relations;
the evolution of the role of faculty and faculty associations in the past half-century; and
what has been accomplished, what has not, and what the future might hold.

The project will use existing documents, interviews with those involved in OCUFA, and other sources to construct a history of the organization.

We have retained Carol Anderson as a researcher/writer for this project. As part of her work, she is looking for photos, videos, recordings, graphics, and other visual material to help illustrate OCUFA’s history.

If you have any material that you think may help illustrate OCUFA’s history or achievements, or the history of postsecondary education in Ontario over the last 50 years, please contact Carol at carolj@ca.inter.net, so that she can assess what you have and arrange to have it sent to OCUFA’s offices.

Thank you for any assistance you can provide.

Best regards,
Mark
——————————————————–
Mark Rosenfeld, Ph.D
Executive Director
Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations
17 Isabella Street
Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4Y 1M7
Tel: 416-979-2117 x229
Fax: 416-593-5607
E-mail: mrosenfeld@ocufa.on.ca
Web: www.ocufa.on.ca
www.academicmatters.ca
www.weteachontario.ca
Subscribe to the OCUFA Report

New research report on “faculty productivity”

March 14th, 2014

Dear colleagues;

As you know, yesterday HEQCO released a new research report on “faculty productivity.”  The paper is, frankly, awful, and we have published a response in the Globe and Mail. It can be read here: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/education/professors-teaching-less-thats-measuring-the-wrong-thing/article17465987/

Kate Lawson has also been quoted in several stories on this issue, including in the Toronto Star (http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2014/03/11/ontario_professors_should_have_to_teach_more_courses_reports_say.html) and Maclean’s  (http://www.macleans.ca/education/university/teaching-load/).

We will continue to monitor this issue going forward, and will continue to push back against HEQCO.

Best Regards,

Grae,e

Graeme Stewart

Communications Manager

Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations

17 Isabella Street | Toronto, ON | M4Y 1M7
416 979 2117 x232 | gstewart@ocufa.on.ca
www.ocufa.on.ca | @OCUFA | www.facebook.com/OCUFA

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SMA Agreement Templates 2014

March 7th, 2014

Dear Colleagues:

OCUFA has obtained a copy of the Strategic Mandate Agreement (SMA) template: SMA Agreement Templates 2014 that will be used by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU) to structure their agreement with your university administration. As it currently stands, the SMA will be used to make decisions about future program approvals, as well as graduate allocations. The template is attached for your reference.

The template reflects the principles, components, and metrics expressed in MTCU’s Differentiation Policy Framework: Differentiation Policy Framework Analysis FINAL, and can be seen as part of the Ministry’s push to “differentiate” the sector. The SMA template appears to reflect MCTU’s stated intent to pursue differentiation in collaboration with individual institutions, and according the institution’s self-identified strengths. OCUFA’s analysis of the Differentiation Policy Framework is also attached to this email.

There are several areas of potential concern in the template:

1. The template approach suggests that MTCU will be compiling the final SMA agreement from each institution’s SMA proposal, indicating greater MTCU power to “edit” proposals than was originally indicated.

2. It continues to advance a “standardized” process for differentiation. OCUFA has argued that using standardized metrics runs the risk of damaging organic diversity in the interest of a narrow vision of differentiation.

3. The template reiterates the government’s desire to revisit the university funding formula. However, the Ministry again stated that this work will be done in consultation with the sector.

4. It is not clear whether new undergraduate spaces will be allocated through the SMAs, as with the graduate expansion.

5. The template also indicates that the government wishes to update the program approval process. This is a new area of interest, and it is not clear what needs to be updated, or what the updates might look like.

6. The template suggests that institutions will continue to be “accountable to the Ministry with respect to effective and efficient use of resources” but does not indicate the design and character of accountability mechanisms. There is some suggestion that the current Multi-Year Accountability Agreements (MYAAs) will be re-purposed as SMA progress reports.

OCUFA will be working with MTCU, and with the Council of Ontario Universities, to clarify these potential areas of concerns. Where clear problems are identified, we will push for more appropriate policies.

If you have not already done so, please request a copy of your institution’s SMA proposal. If shared, this document will provide important information on how administrators at your university are interpreting MTCU’s Differentiation Policy Framework. It will also provide insight into how the final SMA is likely to look.

In the meantime, please do not hesitate to get in touch with any comments or questions.

Best regards,
Mark
——————————————————–
Mark Rosenfeld, Ph.D
Executive Director
Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations
17 Isabella Street
Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4Y 1M7
Tel: 416-979-2117 x229
Fax: 416-593-5607
E-mail: mrosenfeld@ocufa.on.ca
Web: www.ocufa.on.ca
www.academicmatters.ca
www.weteachontario.ca
Subscribe to the OCUFA Report

Reminder about nominations for the OCUFA Service Award

February 21st, 2014

Dear Colleagues:

This is a reminder about nominations for the OCUFA Service Award, which was established three years ago to honour individuals who have done, or continue to do, exceptional work on behalf of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations and its Members.

Up to six awards may be given each year and are presented during OCUFA’s Annual General Meeting, which will be held this year on May 10, 2014.

The deadline for 2013-14 nominations is April 4, 2014.

For more information about the award and the nomination form — in English or French — please visit:

http://ocufa.on.ca/ocufa-awards/ocufa-service-award/ or

http://ocufa.on.ca/ocufa-awards/le-prix-du-service-de-l%e2%80%99ocufa/ [French version]

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me directly.

Best regards,

Mark

——————————————————–
Mark Rosenfeld, Ph.D
Executive Director
Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations
17 Isabella Street
Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4Y 1M7
Tel: 416-979-2117 x229
Fax: 416-593-5607
E-mail: mrosenfeld@ocufa.on.ca
Web: www.ocufa.on.ca
www.academicmatters.ca
www.weteachontario.ca
Subscribe to the OCUFA Report

OCUFA Service Award

January 14th, 2014

Dear Colleagues:

The OCUFA Service Award was established three years ago to honour individuals who have done, or continue to do, exceptional work on behalf of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations and its Members.

Up to six awards may be given each year and are presented during OCUFA’s Annual General Meeting,  which will be held this year on May 10, 2014.

The deadline for 2013-14 nominations is April 4, 2014.

For more information about the award and the nomination form — in English or French — please visit:

http://ocufa.on.ca/ocufa-awards/ocufa-service-award/   or

http://ocufa.on.ca/ocufa-awards/le-prix-du-service-de-l%e2%80%99ocufa/  [French version]

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me directly.

Best regards,

Mark

——————————————————–
Mark Rosenfeld, Ph.D
Executive Director
Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations
17 Isabella Street
Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4Y 1M7
Tel: 416-979-2117 x229
Fax: 416-593-5607
E-mail: mrosenfeld@ocufa.on.ca
Web: www.ocufa.on.ca
www.academicmatters.ca
www.weteachontario.ca
Subscribe to the OCUFA Report