by E Wayne Ross on April 8, 2009

Globe and Mail: Tuition attrition? Reposition

At Guelph, students are protesting because the university has cut women’s studies and ecology. At the University of Toronto, they’re outraged because the downtown campus is about to charge full-time fees for lighter course loads. York University has just survived a brutal strike by teaching assistants and contract faculty. And as everyone freezes hiring, PhDs have become a glut on the market.

This is just a taste of things to come. As endowment and pension funds shrivel up, Canada’s universities are facing a challenge they haven’t had since the mid-1990s: budget cuts. “It’s a perfect storm,” says education consultant Alex Usher, who figures that endowment funds alone have taken a $2-billion hit.

For the past few years, the postsecondary sector has enjoyed automatic funding increases of 5 per cent to 10 per cent a year. Now, some places will have to cut back 15 per cent over the next three years.