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Students, faculty protest changes in university legislation

by admin October 7, 2009

Students, faculty protest changes in university legislation

by Archives October 6, 2009

Opposition is mounting in Quebec to two bills proposed by the provincial government that would change the way universities are run in the province.
Critics say the move, which will standardize university governance, will take control away from students and faculty, and give it to businesspeople and the provincial government.
Bill 38 would require university boards to have at least 60 per cent of their membership come from outside the university, while Bill 44 would require universities to seek government approval before taking out large loans.
The government has said the bills are a reaction to the financial crisis at the Université du Québec à Montréal. In 2007 the university nearly went bankrupt after a construction project was more than $100 million over budget.
Last Tuesday, 13 of Quebec’s 18 universities presented their opposition to the bills at public consultations. University leaders said the government should respect the individual nature of the schools.
On Thursday over 400 people, mostly UQAM students joined by some faculty and staff, protested outside a downtown Montreal branch office of the ministry of education.
“It’s not useful, it’s not necessary, it’s not efficient,” said Olivier Jégou of the Table de Concertation étudiante du Québec, a student lobby group that helped organize the protest.
He said the government hasn’t shown any actual problem the bills will solve.
The bills, which are currently undergoing public consultation, were first brought up last fall, but died when the provincial election began last December.
Student and faculty lobby groups have taken issue with the high number of “independent members” required in Bill 38 because these board members come from the private sector.
Universities and CEGEPs have an “academic mission, a scientific mission and a training mission,” said Max Roy, president of the Fédération québécoise des professeures et professeurs d’université. “They’re not there to serve private enterprise.”
He said that universities are public, and need to remain so, adding that private enterprise has conflicting goals with universities’ public mission
Michèle Beaudoin, vice president of the Fédération du personnel professionnel des universités et de la recherché said her organization was also opposed to the new law. She wants to see more representation on university board from all levels of people involved with universities.
The new rules would have the greatest effect at schools that draw a large percentage of their board from inside the university, like Bishop’s and the Université de Montréal.
Universities like Concordia and McGill would not be affected since the majority of their boards already come from outside the university, .
The new rules would also require at least 25 per cent of a university’s board to represent staff, faculty and students.
The new law would also give the government the power to appoint one member to university boards. McGill, Concordia and Bishop’s do not currently have any board members appointed by the government.
U de M already has several board members appointed by the government, while the government appoints the entire board of the Université du Québec.
Bill 44 would require universities to receive provincial authorization in order to take out large loans. It would also remove academic deans from university and CEGEP boards.
According to Jégou, Bill 44 treats universities like private companies.
“When they talk about risk they are talking only about investment.” He said the government should set different rules for universities, “because universities don’t trade on the market.”

Opposition is mounting in Quebec to two bills proposed by the provincial government that would change the way universities are run in the province.
Critics say the move, which will standardize university governance, will take control away from students and faculty, and give it to businesspeople and the provincial government.
Bill 38 would require university boards to have at least 60 per cent of their membership come from outside the university, while Bill 44 would require universities to seek government approval before taking out large loans.
The government has said the bills are a reaction to the financial crisis at the Université du Québec

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