Canada cuts academic posts by nearly 10 per cent

January 2, 1998

Quebec universities have lost 10 per cent of their professors, according to a recent survey by a provincial teachers association.

According to the Federation Quebcoise des Professeures et Professeurs d'Universites, 1,000 full-time professors have been lost to Quebec in the past three years.

The second-largest Canadian province now employs 8,000 faculty staff, down from about 9,000 in 1994. The rest of the country has lost about 3,000 full-time academics since 1992. There are now about 34,000 in total.

Christine Piette, the principal researcher on the study and former federation vice president, said the survey was trying to gauge the damage of provincial funding cuts.

In the past three years, Quebec 's education ministry has cut operating grants to universities by more than 18 per cent.

The study of 239 department heads and deans found class sizes had risen while sessional instructors, teaching assistants, resource material and courses had declined.

The minister of education keeps telling us there is no deterioration, said Professor Piette, who suggests that these new findings may encourage the government to temper its cost-cutting.

Montreal province has also suffered. The Universite de Montreal lost more than a quarter of its 1,200 teachers in three years. McGill University has even considered becoming a small private university to end funding problems.

Concordia University, one of the most ailing universities, recently dropped more than one third of its 250 programmes.

The university plans to close or merge about 100. It has spared the Simone de Beauvoir Institute, the acclaimed feminist research centre threatened with closure last February.

In another blow Quebec education and health ministers announced that if any of its universities or teaching hospitals take advantage of a Can$800 million (Pounds 330 million) federal programme to fund infrastructure projects, the ministries would take back that same amount in operating grants.

The separatist government claims that a provincial rather than a federal programme should decide where money goes for capital projects and refurbishment.

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