Entire B.C. higher-education system needs a re-boot

Entire B.C. higher-education system needs a re-boot

Jon Ferry, The Province

Published: Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Is it time to pull the plug on the huge subsidies we taxpayers pay to fund B.C.’s billion-dollar universities?

That’s heresy, I know. We’ve been brainwashed into believing a university degree is the gateway to nirvana … and that professors are gods whom we must pay through the nose to keep happy.

Now, I don’t normally worry about what others earn. I mean, if aging billionaires want to spend their cash making millionaires out of athletic kids who can put a puck in the net, that’s fine with me. It’s a free world.

I do wonder, though, about some of the newly-released salaries of University of B.C. employees. As the Ubyssey points out, 2,048 made between $100,000 and $200,000 in the 2011-2012 financial year, 283 received between $200,000 and $300,000 – and 48 got more than $300,000. UBC president Stephen Toope, whom I couldn’t reach Tuesday, raked in more than $530,000 annually, three times what the Premier made.

No, with extra moolah for moon-lighting (writing government reports, running consultancy businesses, etc.), these not-so-nutty professors and administrators aren’t starving away in their ivory towers.

They’re living the high life. Indeed, the official student newspaper said the total bill for those making above $75,000 annually was $472 million, or about half the $1 billion UBC paid its employees.

And the question is, is this a good deal for taxpayers? Are we getting good value for this high-cost higher education?

Well, the university’s position is that you have to pay top dollar to attract top people. And the fact is the bill is only going higher.

The UBC faculty association is talking about the need for a catch-up hike “to bring our salaries back in line with those of other Canadian universities of comparable academic quality and size.”

But there seem to be a growing number of folks, including professors, who finally are questioning the value of many of the degrees from these degree-granting factories – and their relevance to the real work world. B.C. seems to have a shortage of competent electricians, mechanics, loggers and even underground miners. And our universities appear instead to churn out eco-fawning sociology, anthropology and English Lit grads with an over-developed sense of entitlement.

Besides, as Ontario profs Ken Coates and Bill Morrison point out in their recent book, Campus Confidential, Canadian universities remain very old-tech and low-tech:

“In many countries, huge online universities, with 200,000 students or more, provide education through digital means.”

As for the argument that traditional universities serve to expand the mind, most have become so politically-correct they actively suppress critical thinking. In fact, judging by the emails I get, most recent grads seem to have majored in personal attacks, not rational discussion.

For this, we have to pay these ginormous professorial salaries? No, I think the entire B.C. higher-education system needs a re-boot.

If you want young Mark or Martha to get a degree in history, social science or women’s studies, you pay for it. Don’t expect others to pick up the tab.

jferry@theprovince.com

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COMMENT/s:

QUOTE:

The UBC faculty association is talking about the need for a catch-up hike “to bring our salaries back in line with those of other Canadian universities of comparable academic quality and size.”

COMMENT : “Need “? I have had enough Post Secondary education to detect BULLSHIT fairly well. High Time you “Ivory Tower troglodytes”  came down to earth..kicking and  screaming or otherwise. Don’t play that ” entitlement “game, we see it all the time in the Civil Service, as you are, in essence, Civil Servants. You get one Campus to give  raises..then set a new point of reference , …..and then continue taking turns so you can collectively plunder the supposedly bottomless public trough.  As I have said several times…when I was at University in the 1970s….a decent F/T summer job would allow you to pay tuition..books…even afford a vehicle..Student Debt? was almost unheard of !  I would bet many of these “poor” Professors are from the same era… yet no empathy to THEIR current students economic plight ? If you don’t like the pay, RESIGN (and of course lose your tenure..call your bluff?)…probably a lot of cab drivers with PhD’s that would love to change careers. Nobody, I repeat NOBODY,  is “Indispensable”.

 

QUOTE:

But there seem to be a growing number of folks, including professors, who finally are questioning the value of many of the degrees from these degree-granting factories – and their relevance to the real work world. B.C. seems to have a shortage of competent electricians, mechanics, loggers and even underground miners. And our universities appear instead to churn out eco-fawning sociology, anthropology and English Lit grads with an over-developed sense of entitlement.

COMMENT

The more personal research I do, I concur with the above. I will agree that with  Higher Education you Learn how to LEARN, valuable life skill. However, these same campuses seem to be degree factories, like a ” must have” fashion accessory. Every environment has its carrying capacity…perhaps it is time to do a comprehensive education review.

QUOTE:

As for the argument that traditional universities serve to expand the mind, most have become so politically-correct they actively suppress critical thinking. In fact, judging by the emails I get, most recent grads seem to have majored in personal attacks, not rational discussion.

COMMENT :

Yes, this is what I read and also experience. We have all been there whereby when young we can’t wait to share what we learn, as well as the (illogical)attitude “we younger people know everything and older people don’t”(???). I have noted before that when I was in High School, approx 10% of the students went on to University…I don’t know what the number are now…but I am sure much higher.

QUESTION: How many University Grads can the Real World market absorb ? My view is that education is becoming like the Housing bubble. People are allowed to go into massive debt to bid up the price of the goods and services. The Universities see this “student debt” as a means to line their pockets but again….is society as a whole benefitting ? . Putting students approx $40,000 in debt by age of 22 is not a person that will be a fiscally viable patron of many businesses and support the economy at large once they graduate .  I don’t real any starving professors back in my day, so again…what is going on ? I am also aware that many lecturers are on “contracts”…implying a cost cutting measure…thus likely never get tenure……so again, WHERE is the money going?

 

Or, Conversely, IF the students wer actually learning something,ie true facts and not what is often censored and filtered ” politically correct ” BULLSHIT  and using Critical Thinking Skills, we would literally have a constructive revolution and be tackling and solving many of the problems we have. As many suggest, all Universities are producing is these brainwashed eco- freaks / future revolutionaries that are sucked into the entitlement mantra…and miss the numerous opportunities that do exist and should be pursued.

 

Finally, my fear, (which I discussed with another person just the other day),  is that those few that do get hired are hired by Gov’t / Public Sector,….and these types then get absorbed into this culture…and realize that their survival and all its benefits are dependent on Empire Building….writing drafts, reports, studies, and tabling recommendation that ultimately piss more Tax $$$ down a rat hole….

In other words they are like tumours..they work AGAINST us as they suck us dry , and march us to more of a Big Brother governance that  a “free will” and “critical thinking”  society  .  These types must learn a lesson, before we have to teach them one.

 

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