UNB Town Hall Review – Part I
Warning: What follows is the first in a (brief) series of UNB-centric postings.
For those unable to attend the Town Hall event, I thought I’d share my take on “the state of the bi-campus uni” in the wake of the Report of the UNB Commission on Inter-Campus Relations, Funding, and Governance. I’m touching on three areas only (funding, governance, and “separation”), so I hope others will add comments to fill in the gaps in what follows and offer additional/alternative “takes.”
First, funding: Okay, I haven’t wrapped my mind around all the figures in all the tables in the report, but the main message appears to be this: Over the years, the Board of Governors has tried to come up with a fair and reasonable internal solution to an unfair and unreasonable external problem, namely the inadequacy of provincial funding and the failure of provincial governments to heed previous recommendations to provide separate grants to the two campuses. Attempts at an internal solution have caused internal tensions which are unlikely to be completely resolved until the root problem is addressed. To that end, the Commissioners recommend, with some force, and apparently in the hope that we’ll be “third time lucky,” that UNB and its Board impress upon the provincial government the critical necessity of introducing separate grants to the two campuses. That said, the Commissioners also highlight the new uncertainties that the provincial government has introduced around grant policy in its recent “Action Plan” (as I recall, something along the lines of “modernizing” funding formulae so that post-secondary institutions will be disciplined to respond in goose-step fashion to somebody’s flavour-of-the-month perception of labour market requirements). As the Commissioners point out, suggested measures within the Action Plan, while still vague and uncertain, “could affect the current independence of university decision-making and academic freedom in important ways” (p. 40). So I’m thinking that’s the crucial funding fiasco we need to focus on at this point.
(Stay tuned… next time: Governance)