UPEIFA Seeks to Preserve Educational Quality at UPEI

Linking Students’ Learning Conditions to the  Working Conditions of Professors and Professional Librarians is Key to Preserving Educational Quality and  Improving the Student Experience

In its marketing to potential students, UPEI boasts of small class-sizes, supportive professors, access to world-class researchers, and second-to-none student learning support services. However, the reality of UPEI has changed dramatically from this idyllic picture that’s been advertised over the last
 10 years: the University has grown exponentially, adding dozens of new programs and enjoying record-breaking growth in enrolments.

Unfortunately, rather than invest in supporting  faculty in their teaching and research, UPEI’s Administration has instead become increasingly dependent on precariously-employed sessional instructors rather than full-time professors, resulting in 53% of faculty being employed by contract and not in permanent
 roles. Why is this a problem? In short, lack of investment in full time permanent faculty is endangering the University’s core academic mission of teaching and research through the following avenues:

  • Increasing the use of sessional instructors reduces the proportion of faculty members available to undertake the administrative and service tasks that are essential for UPEI to function, resulting in ever-increasing amounts of administrative work for a shrinking number of full-time permanent faculty.
  • Full-time permanent faculty play a key role in securing external research grants and leading research initiatives that engage both graduate and undergraduate students. When a growing proportion of full-time faculty are replaced by part-time instructors on low-paying, short-term contracts, the University’s strategic priority of expanding research capacity is undermined.
  • Because their teachers’ working conditions are students’ learning conditions, students are adversely affected when their professors don’t have the time and resources to teach effectively,

    UPEI’s Board of Governors have justified the shift to relying on contract academic staff in the name of managerial “flexibility” without any concern for the negative effect such changes may have on the quality of educational experience or the core academic mission of the University.

     

    UPEIFA is proposing in collective bargaining that the University introduce a minimum number of full-time faculty in ratio to the number of students enrolled, as well as a path to job security, a living wage, and benefits for contract academic staff. The UPEIFA believes that expanding research capacity,  preserving educational quality, and enhancing the student experience are key to keeping UPEI competitive.