posted on Jan. 17: Ontario must fund 15,000 more faculty to ease shortage, group says


The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) is calling on the provincial government to provide more funding to ease a pressing faculty shortage at Ontario universities.

“Ontario needs 15,000 more professors in order to meet student demand for higher education,” said Henry Jacek, OCUFA president and a professor of political science at McMaster.
“And we need to hire now or face a worsening faculty shortage crisis.”
OCUFA released a research paper this week, titled “Less Isn't More: Ontario's Faculty Shortage Crisis”, that highlights the faculty shortage problem. The group is also hosting a one-day conference Jan. 26 that will examine the crisis.

“The government has known for years that the number of faculty at Ontario universities is far
below what is needed to deal with the growing demand for higher education. We are now faced
with a faculty shortage crisis. And while the government uses the rhetoric of investing in
students', it has not provided the funding needed to hire faculty who are critical to student learning
and to maintaining a world-class system of excellence in education in the province,” said Jacek.

“The recruitment process must begin now,” Jacek said. “If the government fails to provide the
requisite funding to allow this hiring to take place, the crisis in postsecondary education will not
only affect our students, but the future of Ontario as a whole. The province's economic and social
well-being depends on our best and brightest minds having access to a first class university

The shortage is compounded by the fact universities in North America are poaching professors from each other. The problem was highlighted in a story titled Raiding the ivory tower that appeared Jan. 13 in the Hamilton Spectator.

Harvey Weingarten, provost and vice-president academic, said in trying to retain and recruit faculty, the University is having to work “very, very hard to stay where we are.”

Weingarten said that because of the employment market “we have to make some significant offers to people to bring them here.”

Jacek said every able and motivated student should have access to a high quality university education.

“But such excellence in education hinges first and foremost on the province's faculty,
because the interaction between students and their professors is the single most important element
of the teaching and learning process,” he added.

“Student demand for a university education is expected to increase by 40 per cent over the course of
the next decade, but no provisions are in place for hiring the additional faculty necessary to
maintain the high quality of education that these students deserve,” Jacek said.

To date, OCUFA said, Ontario has lost 2,000 full-time equivalent faculty, representing more than 15 per cent of the total
complement. In addition a third of current faculty members are between the ages of 55 and 64, suggesting that a further 5,500 professors will leave their universities by the year 2010.

“This loss of faculty could not come at a worse time. It coincides precisely with the biggest
increase in university demand since the 1960s. And the government's own secondary school
reform, which is giving rise to the upcoming double cohort' of students, is one of the key reasons
why enrolment is expected to jump by 90,000 students” during the next 10 years, Jacek said.

“Classrooms are already overcrowded, so one-for-one replacement hiring is not enough to
preserve the excellence of Ontario's university system,” Jacek said. “What the universities need, and our
students deserve, is the hiring of 15,000 new and additional faculty. The government's short-sighted approach to university funding threatens the quality of education that Ontario
students will receive.”