Presentation at Open Ed conference 2014 (on UBC’s Policy 81)

I have been waiting to make this post, because like last year, all the sessions this year were videorecorded, and I was going to wait until the recordings were posted on Youtube so I could embed mine here. But the conference was in November of 2014, and it’s now February of 2015, and the Open Education Conference Youtube channel still just has the keynotes from the 2014 conference up. So I’m going to at least post my slides here.

This presentation is from the Open Education Conference 2014 in Washington, DC. It was about UBC’s Policy 81, and my fears that it may have lead to enough bad feelings among some people at UBC that they are no longer willing to share teaching materials with an open license. I did a small survey (28 people responded) of faculty members at UBC who had opted out of Policy 81 by signing up on a registry to do so, and found that that was indeed the case for some.

Now, just this week a revised Policy 81 has come out, and the university is asking for comments. I have a blog post about that too.

Here are the slides from my presentation:


I also have a lengthy set of notes for the presentation (surprisingly lengthy, given that I spoke for about 20-25 minutes, if I remember correctly (so obviously I skimmed over much of this!). In case you’re wanting more background on any of this, you can check out the notes:


Finally, as a result of this presentation, I was interviewed by Jenni Hayman of the Open Policy Network about UBC’s Policy 81. You can see a video recording of this interview, which was done via Skype, on the OPN blog.


Governance at UBC

At the presentation at the conference, some people asked about whether or not there was shared governance at UBC–how could it be that the administration and the faculty union were so at odds on this issue? A good question. Honestly, I’m not entirely sure how governance works at UBC, but here’s what I do know.

The policy was passed by the Board of Governors, which consists of (according to the University Act of BC)

  • the UBC Chancellor
  • the UBC President
  • 11 people appointed by the lieutenant governor, two of whom should be from a list of nominees from the alumni association
  • 3 students (undergrad or grad)
  • 3 faculty members
  • 2 UBC employees who are not faculty members

So there are just three faculty members out of 21 people on the board, and 11 out of those 21 are not currently at UBC (though two of those 11 are probably alumni, from what I can tell). The faculty voice, then, is pretty small.

There is also the Senate of UBC, which is part of the overall governance. The membership of the Senate is pretty complicated, so I’ll just copy here from the University Act, part 7:

(a) the chancellor;

(b) the president, who is the senate’s chair;

(c) the academic vice president who must work through a part not specified under section 3.1 or equivalent;

(d) the deans of faculties who must work through a part not specified under section 3.1;

(e) the chief librarian or a person designated for the purpose by the chief librarian;

(f) the director of continuing education or a person designated for the purpose by the director;

(g) a number of faculty members equal to twice the number of senate members provided in paragraphs (a) to (f), to consist of 2 members of each faculty elected by the members of that faculty, and the remainder elected by the faculty members in the manner that they, in joint meeting, determine, but only faculty members employed through parts not specified under section 3.1 can vote or be elected;

(h) a number of students, equal to the number of senate members provided in paragraphs (a) to (f), elected from the students who are members of an undergraduate student society or a graduate student society, in a manner that ensures that at least one student from each faculty is elected, but only students studying through parts not specified under section 3.1 can vote or be elected;

(i) 4 persons who are not faculty members, elected by and from the convocation;

(j) one member to be elected by the governing body of each affiliated college of the university;

(k) additional members, determined by the senate, without altering the ratio set out in paragraphs (g) and (h).

So clearly, the Senate has a much greater representation of the faculty than the Board of Governors. But which body does what?

The Board of Governors website lays out the different responsibilities of the two. Briefly, according to that site:

The Board of Governors is responsible for the business of the University – its administration, finances, operations, assets and place in the community – and the integrity of such.

The Senates have a more focused responsibility for the academic integrity of the University, subject to the Board’s involvement where academic matters interface with matters of business and the larger community.

According to the longer list on the site, the Board of Governors has a say in most of the activities and policies of the university. The things that the Senate determines on its own are mostly to do with academic matters, such as academic discipline, final exams, admit students, grant degrees, and manage the library.

The procedure for adopting policies by the Board of Governors, such as Policy 81, seems to be that the policy is proposed, then there is a comment period, and then a vote is held among the Board. The UBC Faculty Association (our faculty union) expressed serious concerns about Policy 81 in February 2014, but the policy was passed anyway.


A revised policy

In February 2015, a revised policy 81 was put forward for comment. Please see a later blog post for information on that.