Category Archives: Academia

Marching to the Legislature

On Tuesday, a few dozen people met at the centre of UNBF for another rally, and also a march this time. This was organized by the UNBF Graduate Student Association.

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From UNBF, we marched about for 20 minutes or more to the legislature. It’s a long way!

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Everyone present had lots of spirit!

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Professors and students came from many university campuses. The lady shown here is a professor at STU.

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The blogger, Charles Leblanc, is getting blogged himself. And by the looks of things, I’m covering this story before he is! Haha.

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Some of the Progressive Conservative MLA’s came out offering protestors invitations to the throne speech.

Due to a lack of advertising, the showing wasn’t very strong unfortunately. This is unfortunate, as many people would have come out if they knew about it. I hope there is more advertising for the next rally.

Demonstration in Fredericton

On Tuesday, over 50 people (100 by some counts) braved the cold weather to attend a small rally at the centre of campus in Fredericton. The rally goals were to protest the bad ideas of the PSE report, including campus closures (!), deregulation of tuition, and the downgrading of university senates.

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Many UNBSJ professors, along with 3 of us students, made the trek up to UNBF.

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Mona holds a placard.

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The rally was organized by the Graduate Student Association of UNB.

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The rally was a small gesture to keep the public aware that the post-secondary education issues haven’t been resolved yet, and that we’re still fighting.

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I stand bundled up warmly with two jackets, still trying to display my UNBSJ sweatshirt purchased for the first big rally in Fredericton at the legislature.

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I made the 6 o’clock CTV News, as Mike Cameron interviewed me in Saint John before we left for Fredericton.

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And here I am listening to speakers in Fredericton.

UNB Financial Analysis: New Brunswick trails most of Canada (including Newfoundland and PEI) in PSE funding

This post is part five of many in my series as I point out some facts and figures from a special financial review that shed light on real problems affecting UNBSJ as well as UNB as a whole. I will compile a few relevant quotations from the financial review, and offer a brief summary to bring it all together.

“UNB is operating with less overall resources than most other national comprehensive universities.” (page 28)

“The dramatic decline in provincial funding over that past two decades has shifted the relative burden of revenue to students. With tuition reaching maximum competitive levels, the ability to continue this revenue shift is not feasible.” (page 18)

“New Brunswick in particular is lagging behind the rest of the country in R&D investment on a per capita basis. For 2003, per capita funding for R&D in New Brunswick was $258 versus the Atlantic province average of $346 and the Canadian average of $758.” (page 14)

“The continued positioning of UNB as a nationally-recognized comprehensive university will require substantial levels of provincial funding beyond what is necessary to fund current operations. Securing that commitment and funding will require alignment of UNB’s strategy with that of the Province of New Brunswick” (page 40)

In the graph, you see where New Brunswick and UNB rank based on the amount of money given to each university as operating grants divided by the number of full-time equivalent students. We’re near the bottom of the bucket, as you can see. In my opinion, we have no excuse for this because PEI and Newfoundland are near the head of the pack, despite being two of the smallest and poorest provinces. We’re not going to get more out of our post-secondary education system until we start putting more into it. Shuffling our institutional models around serves only as a mechanism to distract the population from the real funding problems.

EDIT: That’s all I have for now. Keep checking back as I blog about new things when I have time.

UNB Financial Analysis: Funding formula places UNBSJ at a disadvantage

This post is part four of many in my series as I point out some facts and figures from a special financial review that shed light on real problems affecting UNBSJ as well as UNB as a whole. I will compile a few relevant quotations from the financial review, and offer a brief summary to bring it all together.

“UNB must also consider the provincial funding formula in relation to its two campuses. UNB applies the government formula when allocating the provincial grant between the two campuses. Since 75 per cent of the formula is fixed, there has been little change to the level of funding at either campus, despite how each campus has evolved in the last 15 years. The remaining 25 per cent of government funding is variable depending upon enrolment.” (page 13)

“This formula, however, does not provide funding for international students. It also allocates different funding amounts for students based on their study program and their status as an undergraduate versus a graduate student. For example, a university receives funding of approximately $1,089 for an undergraduate student in an arts program versus $8,715 for a graduate student in an engineering program. These parameters result in the Saint John campus receiving less government funding due to the make up of its student body – with its high levels of both undergraduate and international students – rather than as a result of supporting strategic priorities or initiatives between the two campuses. The following charts indicate the impact this has on the operating revenues of each campus.” (page 13)

The red portion of the charts reflects the government’s funding received and then allocated by UNB to each campus. Keeping the majority of this funding formula fixed as UNBSJ has evolved is the ultimate growing pain. One result of this is that UNBSJ students carry a larger burden of supporting their campus’s operating revenue through tuition than their counterparts at UNBF. Is this fair? I think not.

This is one example of a funding issue affecting us where UNB itself is primarily responsible. In my next post, I will take a look at how the provincial government’s funding of post secondary education may be lacking as compared to other provinces.

Edmundston has mastered the art of rallying


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Yesterday, a group of us from UNB rallied with thousands in Edmundston to protest the PSE report recommendations. The Liberals are holding a meeting there this weekend. The Francophones sure know how to put on a great rally complete with noisemakers and professionally-made signs galore. Perhaps my photos below can give you a sense of what it was like.

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Before getting to Edmundston, we stopped in Fredericton first to pick up a few people. Since we had plenty of space on the bus, we tried to recruit more students from the Student Union (SU) building.

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The people of Edmundston were very happy to have our support.

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Many banners and signs declared, “The North isn’t dead”, making reference to earlier comments to the media by Jacques L’Ecuyer who said the “north is dead” if they didn’t reform the higher education system. I didn’t see any signs of a dying community yesterday in Edmundston, so perhaps the “north” that L’Ecuyer was referring to is somewhere further north, in Quebec, where he makes his home.

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A cross-section of the entire Edmunston community came out to show their support, including grandmothers, parents, students and small children who carried signs or wore shirts with the year when they plan to graduate from their small town university campus. The northern Université de Moncton campuses are fairly small, but the Edmundston one does offer complete programs.

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From where I could see from my position at the front, the line of people just seemed to continue forever.

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The crowd made lots of noise as it passed through downtown Edmundston.

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Our English signs are visible everywhere among a sea of French signs.

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Following the speeches outside the building where the Liberals were meeting, everyone was encouraged to leave their signs in a big pile on the steps. Perhaps this was a gesture initiated by some local sign making company, as it is very possible that everyone will need new signs if there’s another rally.

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Dr. Ed didn’t give a speech, but he did make his way through the crowd as it began to disperse. I don’t think the majority of francophones recognize who he is, otherwise they might have confronted him. I heard him say “good luck” in French to a few people, perhaps referring to the likelihood that we will convince him to do the right thing, and guarantee institutions that are more than just a “university” name only.

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After the rally, Team UNB went to a restaurant for supper at a Vietnamese place. I am pictured here with the 3 other students. After that, it was a nice long bus ride back to Saint John.

In my next post, I’ll resume my analysis of the facts and figures.

UNB Financial Analysis: Reinforcing importance of universities to communities

This post is part three of many in my series as I point out some facts and figures from a special financial review that shed light on real problems affecting UNBSJ as well as UNB as a whole. I will compile a few relevant quotations from the financial review, and offer a brief summary to bring it all together.

“Universities mean more to their communities, their provinces and their region than just about any other single industry.” -“Smarter Together: The Economic Impact of Universities in the Atlantic Provinces” (page 40)

“The report, The Economic Impact of Universities in the Atlantic Provinces (February 2006), issued by the Atlantic Association of Universities (AAU), reinforces the perspective that universities are a powerful strategic partner for governments, economic development agencies, regional advocacy organizations and communities to advance and grow the knowledge economy.” (page 40)

“Students also contribute significantly to the local economy while attending university and continue to do so beyond graduation providing innovation, growth and immigration. The university provides meaningful R&D for the private sector, funded primarily by the federal government’s national granting councils, which fuels innovation and growth in economic and social sectors.” (page 40)

I will admit that before this debate started, I never totally understood the importance of UNBSJ to Saint John and the province. I had little idea how it all worked, and was even cynical about it before. But now that I do understand things a bit better, I can’t begin to comprehend why eliminating or diminishing a university has been on the table. If you need reasons why UNBSJ is actually important, take a look at any newspaper from the past month.

It’s clear that UNBSJ is critical for Saint John’s growth potential, so what is holding it back right now? In my next analysis post, I will take a brief look at how the current formula places the port city campus at a disadvantage within the UNB family compared to its Fredericton counterpart.

UNB Financial Analysis: UNBSJ provides critical international student base

This post is part two of many in my series as I point out some facts and figures from a special financial review that shed light on real problems affecting UNBSJ as well as UNB as a whole. I will compile a few relevant quotations from the financial review, and offer a brief summary to bring it all together.

As with most universities, UNB’s student enrollments have increased over the past decade. (page 10)

Statistics Canada figures show that the number of international students enrolling at Canadian universities grew to 70,000, an increase of 16.8 per cent between 2002-03 and 2003-04. UNB has also experienced growth in this area, particularly on the Saint John campus, as that campus attempted to offset declining local enrollments by increasing its international student cohort. International students still make up 21 per cent of UNBSJ’s student population, although the numbers have declined somewhat due to increased competition. This is 13 per cent higher than the national average of seven per cent. International students comprise nine per cent of UNBF’s student body (page 10)

New Brunswick is one of only three provinces where population will likely experience zero growth or decline over the next 25 years, while Canada’s population is estimated to grow between 12 per cent and 30 per cent during that time. (page 10)

It’s no surprise that our province’s population is not expected to have any growth over the next 25 years, so continued growth of our universities depends on finding sources of students from outside the province. While both UNB campuses maintain an international student base above the national average, the pie charts clearly show that Saint John comprises a much higher ratio. It is very important for New Brunswick to strengthen infrastructure at UNBSJ to encourage more international students to enroll, as this campus has already distinguished itself in this effort. Let’s make a great thing better!

We all know that universities are important to communities. In my next post, I’ll provide some reinforcement for this notion as taken from the financial review.

UNB Financial Analysis: Current enrollment decline does not reflect overall trend

This post is one part of many in my series as I point out some facts and figures from a special financial review that shed light on real problems affecting UNBSJ as well as UNB as a whole. I will compile a few relevant quotations from the financial review, and offer a brief summary to bring it all together.

As with most universities, UNB’s student enrolments have increased over the past decade. According to Statistics Canada, national student enrolment increases were due to three main factors. The demand for a university education increased as a result of the restructuring of the Canadian economy over the past 25 years. Students responded by enrolling at universities in order to fulfill the labor market stipulations for entry-level jobs, many of which now require higher post-secondary qualifications. Finally, Ontarioâ??s double cohort, commencing in fall 2003, contributed to an influx of grades 12 and grade 13 students, who graduated simultaneously. This double cohort will be completed in fall 2007 enrolment, with graduation in May 2008. (page 10)

[Between 2001-02 and 2004-05, UNB experienced] significant increase in student enrolment, which rose from 9,947 full-time equivalent students to 11,106. This enrolment growth was the result of new student recruitment approaches and techniques, the impact of the double cohort of Ontario students and successful international student recruitment, mainly affecting the Saint John campus. These positive results have diminished significantly as overall enrolment levels stabilized and have started to decrease marginally. (page 20)

The decrease in enrollment observed this year is not surprising to the universities, especially given the factors above and decreasing numbers of high school graduates.

The graph clearly shows an overall trend in the upwards direction, and one must expect this to level off eventually. This is precisely what is happening now, and a few other factors may cause other marginal drops. Despite this, there is no evidence of a critical mass shifting away from university education.

In my next post, I will look at why UNBSJ is best positioned at playing a vital role in offsetting these declines in enrolment.