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Is the end nigh?

October 30, 2008

For the Pollyanna view, read “The reports of impending doom are exaggerated: In our view: Fredericton is in an enviable economic position,” The Daily Gleaner (Oct. 30/08, C7): Saint John too, apparently, thanks to our energy hub. The editorial, with considerable complacency, comments that

For instance, this is a university-government city, where economic downturn has less of an impact. These white collar jobs aren’t going anywhere. We don’t face the challenges the same way manufacturing cities of Ontario do. Neither the universities nor the civil service are going to face massive restructuring any time soon.

Their editorial writer would seem to have just awoken from a coma, given the events of the last year.

Further, due to the economic meltdown, universities are being threatened. Universities south of the border, it’s true, but unless one accepts the view that Canada will not be pulled into a recession along with our neighbours — a position that many regard as optimistic at best — and also recognizing that our education system is markedly different from the U.S. model, being public — still, universities might not be as safe as the editorial staff at the Gleaner opine:

And tuition is already going up in Canada.

Nor are things so cheery in the UK:

Sorry to be a wet blanket. But as we learnt last year, the colour of the collar is no proof against threats to ones job.

But then, just as one is feeling bleak, one reads a story like this one: “Benevolent Budgeting: As Shenandoah University administrators contemplated salary increases for faculty and staff this year, compassion trumped conventional wisdom,” Inside Higher Ed (Oct. 30/08).

  1. Debra Lindsay permalink
    October 31, 2008 2:14 pm

    All well and good for the Gleanor to be giddy about Fredericton economics, but two weeks ago in the TJ their economic columnist pointed out that the economic picture in New Brunwick was not as rosy as it might seem. He pointed out that 70% of the provincial exports come from one source: the Irving Oil Refinery. This overdependency on one source of export revenue puts NB in a precarious situation–especially with the current economic situation. Oil and gas consumption goes down when the prices are high and once we’re used to doing with less, we may even go green–or so an optimist would say.
    At least the Gleanor did acknowledge where most of the revenues were generated. Too bad the energy/economic hub can’t rank with the other NB cities when it comes to the good things in life.

  2. Linda Hansen permalink
    November 3, 2008 8:30 am

    Big universitites (Michigan, Duke, Cornell, Miami (Ohio), CUNY, among them) are already holding meetings with faculty, scaling back or ceasing building projects, discussing market volatility and potential impact on the student loans, research funding, endowments, and the like.

    I’m not an expert in the economy or economics — I don’t even play one on tv — but I’m guessing ignoring this or pretending it is only going to impact the small country to our south suggests a lack of realism at the very least.

    • November 3, 2008 8:48 am

      The Globe today has a story on the effects on Canadian unis; see post.

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