On Nov. 13, University of Calgary provost and vice-president academic Dru Marshall defended administration’s proposal to open a privately owned international college on campus under a barrage of criticism from the U of C Faculty Association and academic staff. In response to plans for the corporate-run college, UCFA president Paul Rogers said his organization has filed a complaint with the university, citing Article 24 of their collective bargaining agreement with the university, which states that grievances between the U of C and the UCFA must be dealt with in a timely fashion.
At a town hall meeting held in the MacHall ballroom, Rogers outlined some of the UCFA’s grievances.
“Individuals hired to teach for this [proposed college] would not be academic staff. They would not have the rights and protections from our collective agreement, which includes things that should be important to everybody,” Rogers said. “We think this would be in violation of the Post-Secondary Learning Act and our collective agreement.”
Rogers went on to say he felt the UCFA choice to file the grievance was “lamentable,” but that he hopes faculty staff will mobilize to stop plans for a privately run international college.
Marshall said she was disappointed that the UCFA would file a grievance, but recognized their right to do so.
The proposed college would recruit international students to upgrade their academics at a privately owned school on the U of C campus. If their academics were up to snuff, these students would then go on to enrol at the U of C.
Administrators have stated they hope that this will “increase diversity” on campus. As Marshall said, the college will provide a new, stable revenue stream and help the U of C reach its Eyes High goal of increasing the number of international students to 10 per cent of the total undergraduate population and 25 per cent of the graduate population on campus by 2016.
The UCFA has aggressively opposed the college since first learning of it in October, arguing that working with a private corporation will degrade academic freedom and damage the university’s reputation.
After Marshall and Rogers gave their thoughts on the college, attendees of the town hall filed behind microphones to ask questions and give their thoughts.
Student Success Centre academic specialist Paul Papine said the plans seem misguided.
“This looks to me like a purely economic decision,” Papine said. “In order to accept a plan like this, I would have to be convinced that the very economic survival of the university was at stake.”
In response, Marshall said the college will have economic benefits, but this is not the reason administration is considering it.
“You will know from the first few presentations that I did on this [college] that I didn’t talk about economics at all. I don’t think that’s the reason to do this,” Marshall said. “There is an economic benefit, but that’s not the reason to do it. The reason is to increase the diversity of our student body right now.”
Later in the town hall, department of philosophy head Nicole Wyatt read a letter outlining her department’s opposition to the college.
“The department of philosophy wishes to be on record to strongly endorse and affirm the principle that it is fundamental to the integrity of academic work that teaching for credit courses at the university be done by the staff of that university,” read the letter.