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CASLL-L  May 1996

CASLL-L May 1996

Subject:

Re: Premier Harris and Private Universities

From:

Roger Graves <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 16 May 1996 14:50:42 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (59 lines)

I work at a private university in Chicago and thought I might comment on
this issue from the point of view of having worked at state universities
in the US as well as at the U of Waterloo. A couple of months ago at the
CCCC's I told the Canadian caucus that our program is expanding and
offering our MA to a suburban Chicago population; the result is another
faculty line or two and more money for the institution. This expansion
helps us to finance the place, since undergrad enrollments are going to
drop off in the next 20 years and undergrad fees are "discounted" from
the approx. $12,000 (US) sticker price (through scholarships, bursaries,
grants, loans, etc.). So I guess you could say that I work in a place
that has been thoroughly "marketized". Is it a bad thing? Well, I don't
think so--the place really responds to student needs, because if we don't
our compensation goes down immediately (salary, travel money, etc.) Do
the students rule the academic side through demand too? I haven't seen
that; the equivalent of the provincial departments of education in
Illinois makes us submit proposals for change to them just as it does
with the state institutions, and the same certification bodies evaluate
both private and public instititions.

I want to correct one problem with the news story, though.  Soemthing
like three-quarters of our students are first generation university
students and are drawn from very diverse cultural groups. These are not
"rich" students:

On Mon, 13 May 1996, Michael Hoechsmann wrote:
>   However, Liberal Leader Lyn McLeod said Harris' statements move
> Ontario universities toward an "Americanized"
> university system where private institutions cater to the rich.
>   "Those who can afford to pay will be able to get what is perceived to
> be the best," McLeod said. "Those who cannot
> afford to pay for the best will have to take whatever the government is
> prepared to fund."

They are, however, people in debt up to their ears. The issue here is
that the burden of paying for the system is being switched from the
general government fund to the user (and immediate benefactor) of the
system. I don't know if it is good or bad, but I am convinced that the
future of university financing is going to come from "selling" programs
to people willing to pay for them. As that article in the Globe and Mail
on Sat. May 4 noted, many places are starting to market their programs
already (and successfully, it seems). It is for that reason that Downey
sees nothing to fear:

>   James Downey, vice-chair of the Council of Ontario Universities, said
> he doesn't oppose the idea.
>   "I can't believe there's any money to be made in universities by the
> private sector," Downey said.
>   "If there's a need for that and such an institution can compete with us
> successfully then more power to them," he said.
>   "I wouldn't fear that kind of competition."
>
Waterloo has already created programs that people will pay for, and other
schools have done the same. In the face of 25 years of funding below
inflation, this may be the only hope for survival (and maybe even
prosperity?).

Roger Graves
DePaul University, Chicago
[log in to unmask]

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