Austerity and


Tuition hike

By increasing tuition fees by 3.4% each year, the PQ made Québec the province in Canada with the largest yearly tuition fee increase in terms of percentage, for 2013. No matter the size of these tuition fee hikes, they increasingly turn education into a commodity and inevitably reduce its accessibility.

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Women are more severely affected

Even today, women tend to earn 76% of men's salary on average. Every school fee increase therefore disproportionately affects women, who make up the overwhelming majority of students heading single-parent families.

Cuts to student services

Studies have shown that during periods of austerity, universities tend to begin by reducing services offered directly to students. For example, they cut audio-visual services, new book acquisitions and library subscriptions, rather than publicity or administrative services.

To compensate, students must search for these services outside the university, at their own expense; this particularly affects the most disadvantaged of us.

Increasingly large student/teacher ratio

When they try to make the cost of each class “optimal”, administrations have a tendency to increase the number of students per professor, which in turn allows them to save on salaries and classrooms. This has a negative effect on the quality of education, affecting the interactions with students and making the subject matter harder to learn.

Cuts to academic programs

In the context of budget crises and of cost-cutting, universities first look to eliminate programs that are considered "unprofitable", like what UQAM tried to do in 2008. These programs are generally in the fields of arts, the humanities and social sciences; the threat of these cuts effectively devalues socially oriented studies.

Heavier bureaucracies

By seeking to reduce their expenses at all costs, universities and CEGEPs set up committees used to evaluate and assess courses, thus adding an expensive and counterproductive level of bureaucracy to schools. This bureaucracy takes up more of teachers' time, who are thus distracted from their work and must bend over backwards to satisfy to "performance" criteria of these committees.

Reduction of teachers' salary

The Treasury Board recently decided to cut CEGEP teachers' salaries by 5%, the equivalent of 3 to 4 work weeks. Additionally, the salary scale no longer considers teachers' masters or doctoral degrees, and does not account for time spent working in departments or in program committees.