Concordia Professors Oppose the Privatization of Universities

A letter from professors at Concordia University.

The efforts of the Charest government to privatize university funding in Quebec have sparked widespread protests. 180,000 students are on strike across the province. Classroom teaching has ground to a halt at many CEGEPs and universities across Quebec, including the University of Montreal, University of Quebec at Montreal, and much of Concordia University.

Students are at the forefront of an important struggle over public education and its role in Quebec society. As professors at Concordia, we join our voices to those of our students. We call on the Quebec government to revisit the university funding plan and rescind the measures that would further privatize our universities through tuition hikes and increased reliance on corporate funding of research.

Historically, Quebec universities have been funded by the public on the grounds that society is enriched as a result. With public funding, tuition fees have remained low and higher education has remained accessible. Under Quebec’s educational social contract, university graduates who achieve success in the labor market keep university costs low for the next generation through their tax dollars. This arrangement is a crucial part of maintaining a more equitable society in which people have access to health care and education no matter what their income is. This is what the student movement is fighting to defend today.

The government’s plan is an attempt to break Quebec’s hard won social contract on education. The proposed 75 percent increase in tuition fees will undermine the accessibility of higher education. This is not merely a question of lost earning power for those who cannot afford to attend university. Universities create social, entrepreneurial, artistic, political and scientific networks that contribute to the productivity of our society. When access to university is restricted, society as a whole loses because these productive networks are reduced in size and diversity. Further, since the tuition hike will disproportionately affect women, people of color, and other marginalized groups who consistently earn less, the hike will worsen economic and social stratification that Quebec society opposes.

The plan also attacks the established role of universities in advancing knowledge for the benefit of society. It expects more research to be funded by private industry, and it urges researchers to commercialize their work. Research funded by industry privileges short-term and applied objectives with immediate economic benefits and spin-offs. Many research questions that are important to society will fall off the table. Since professors draw on their research for teaching, the instrumental nature of industry-funded research will compromise their ability to provide a well-rounded, reflective education that will benefit students over their life-course.

Finally, the government’s plan will undermine the diverse, broad-based university system that exists in Quebec. It calls for universities to attract an additional $54 million in private donations each year, and it ties significant public funding to a university’s success in enticing private donors. These changes pit universities against one another in a contest for private funding, and shift resources toward the universities with the wealthiest alumnae and corporate connections. Greater inequalities between universities will downgrade the training and infrastructure available to many Quebec students, translating into broader inequalities in society at large. The competition for private donations will also place greater emphasis on university branding at the expense of broader ideals and investments in the quality of education.

The government’s plan to privatize the funding of Quebec universities threatens both the accessibility and the quality of our education system. The broad-based student strike embodies the values of our society by opposing a Liberal agenda to privatize educational funding. As professors, we lament the interruption of classes and wish to resume teaching. For this reason, we call on the Charest government to end the strike by rescinding the plan’s tuition increases and emphasis on private funding. In doing so, we stand for the accessible and public nature of higher education that the people of Quebec have long valued and defended.

signé/signed

Charles Acland, Full-time Faculty, Communication Studies
Kevin Austin, Full-time Faculty, Music
Pascale Biron, Full-time Faculty, Geography, Planning & Environment
Veronique Bussieres, Part-time Faculty, Geography, Planning & Environment
Paula Bouffard, Full-time Faculty, Études françaises
Susie Breier, Librarian, Anthropology, Sociology & Women’s Studies
Sébastien Caquard, Full-time Faculty, Geography, Planning & Environment
Ivana Djordjevic, Full-time Faculty, Liberal Arts College
Daniel Dagenais, Full-time Faculty, Sociology & Anthropology
Valérie de Courville Nicol, Full-time Faculty, Sociology & Anthropology
Ricardo Duenez, Part-time Faculty, Geography, Planning & Environment
Debbie Folaron, Full-time Faculty, Études Françaises & Traduction
Ariela Freedman, Full-time Faculty, Liberal Arts College
Jim Freeman, Part-time Faculty, Geography, Planning & Environment
Lauren Freeman, Part-time Faculty, Philosophy
Mike Gasher, Full-time Faculty, Journalism
Pierre Gauthier, Full-time Faculty, Geography, Planning & Environment
José Antonio Giménez Micó, Full-time Faculty, Classics, Modern Languages & Linguistics
Kevin Gould, Full-time Faculty, Geography, Planning & Environment
Peter Grogono, Full-time Faculty, Computer Science and Softward Engineering
Alex Guidon. Librarian, Geography
Shaman Hatley, Full-time Faculty, Religion
Matthew Hays, Part-time Faculty, Journalism
Donal Hickey, Full-time Faculty, Biology
Nasrin Himada, Part-time Faculty, Geography, Planning & Environment
Andrew Ivaska, Full-time Faculty, History
Wilson Jacob, Full-time Faculty, History
Jochen Jaeger, Full-time Faculty, Geography, Planning & Environment
Randolph Jordan, Full-time Faculty, The Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema
Anna Kruzynski, Full-time Faculty, School of Community and Public Affairs
Marc Lafrance, Full-time Faculty, Sociology & Anthropology
Annie Lalancette, Part-time Faculty, Geography, Planning & Environment
Claire Le Brun, Full-time Faculty, Études françaises
Patrick Leroux, Full-time Faculty, English & ‘Études françaises
Krista Lynes, Full-time Faculty, Communication Studies
Catherine MacKenzie, Full-time Faculty, Art History
Erin Manning, Full-time Faculty, Fine Arts & Philosophy
Damon Matthews, Full-time Faculty, Geography, Planning & Environment
Rosanna Maule, Full-time Faculty, The Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema
Ted McCormick, Full-time Faculty, History
Marguerite Mendell, Full-time Faculty, School of Community and Public Affairs
Catherine Moore, Part-time Faculty, Geography, Planning & Environment
David Morris, Full-time Faculty, Philosophy
Monica Mulrennan, Full-time Faculty, Geography, Planning & Environment
Viviane Namaste, Full-time Faculty, Simone de Beauvoir Institute
Luc Otter, Full-time Faculty, The Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema
Julie Podmore, Part-time Faculty, Geography, Planning & Environment
Genevieve Rail, Full-time Faculty, Simone de Beauvoir Institute
Elena Razlogova, Full-time Faculty, History
Rosemary Reilly, Full-time Faculty, Applied Human Sciences
Bill Reimer, Full-time Faculty, Sociology & Anthropology
Shelly Reuter, Full-time Faculty, Sociology & Anthropology
Gerardo Reyes, Part-time Faculty, Geography, Planning & Environment
Christopher Riddle, Full-time Faculty, Philosophy
Ted Rutland, Full-time Faculty, Geography, Planning & Environment
Daniel Salée, Full-time Faculty, School of Community and Public Affairs & Political Science
Kim Sawchuk, Full-time Faculty, Communication Studies
Laura Shillington, Part-time Faculty, Geography, Planning & Environment
Eric Shragge, Full-time Faculty, School of Community and Public Affairs
Sherry Simon, Full-time Faculty, Études françaises
Justin Smith, Full-time Faculty, Philosophy
Marc Steinberg, Full-time Faculty The Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema
Jeremy Stolow, Full-time Faculty, Communication Studies
Katharine Streip, Full-time Faculty, Liberal Arts College
Gavin Taylor, Full-time Faculty, History
Pouya Valizadeh, Full-time Faculty, Electrical and Computer Engineering
Thomas Waugh, Full-time Faculty, The Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema & Interdisciplinary Studies in Sexuality
Jared Wiercinski, Librarian, Music
Ardath Whynacht, Part-time Faculty, Sociology & Anthropology
Valter Zazubovits, Full-time Faculty, Physics
Anya Zilberstein, Full-time Faculty, History

 


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