By Matthew Chung
An independent advisory panel would ensure accountability in Ontario universities and guarantee the province listens to student concerns, according to the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations.
Ryerson geography professor and OCUFA President Michael Doucet along with the other members of the faculty association proposed that an independent advisory panel be re-established in Ontario.
The last advisory panel, the Ontario Council on University Affairs, was axed by the Harris government in 1996 to save money. But getting rid of the panel left a void between decision-makers and those affected by the decisions, Doucet said.
“The government has its interests and the university presidents have their interests,” he said.”Other stakeholders’ [students, staff and the general public] interests have been left out.”
Doucet said an advisory panel would have had accurate forecasts of the double-cohort.Then accommodation problems, such as having classes in the Carlton Cinemas, could have been avoided.
Doucet said that miscalculation was a result of the province dealing directly with the universities’ administration, adding this is why an independent board is needed to oversee the university system.
“Universities are too important to the future of Ontario to leave their fate solely in the hands of the Ontario government,” he said.
The new panel would only give advice to the government, but OCUFA thinks the need for input from other stakeholders in post-secondary education warrants a panel being brought back.
“The government will ultimately make the decisions,” Doucet said.”But good decisions need good information and good advice.”