Thursday, March 26, 2009

Knowledge economy? What knowledge economy? Ontario budget edition

Maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised in the next few days when someone points out the super-secret pot of money for post-secondary education that is part of Dalton McGuinty's spend-a-thon budget. But as of right now, I don't see it, and it's not showing up in any of the media coverage I have seen so far. There's a bit of money for infrastructure, which would be great if only we could afford faculty (or even part-timers) to teach in these buildings.

Recessions are usually periods where university enrollment goes up, as people try to upgrade their skills, or generally wait out a bad job market. So we're likely going to see more students in our universities for the next few years. Those students will be entering a post-secondary system where endowments have been slammed by the stock market's decline, and thus resources are tight for scholarships, bursaries, and in some cases, basic teaching resources. They will enter larger classes, because there is no funding to hire new faculty, and even the resources to hire sessional instructors are tight. It would have demonstrated some foresight had McGuinty and Duncan thought to compensate for the anticipated crunch in the post-secondary sector. But I've come not to expect that from him. It's a particularly bitter pill to swallow when my own MP, Liz Sandals, is the Minister for Colleges and Universities. Apparently, she doesn't have much pull at the Cabinet table.

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