Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia university teachers decry administration 'opacity'

The Association of Nova Scotia University Teachers is urging the province to hold school administrators more accountable for the decisions they make and better measure the financial health of universities.

'Organizations like ours to have to become detectives about our own institutions'

The Association of Nova Scotia University Teachers says the province needs to force university administrators to be more accountable for the financial decisions they make. (Tulane Public Relations, Flickr cc)

The Association of Nova Scotia University Teachers is urging the province to hold school administrators more accountable for the decisions they make and better measure the financial health of universities.  

"This opacity surrounding the basic governance of our schools has now caused faculty associations and organizations like ours to have to become detectives about our own institutions," said Matthew Furlong, a spokesman for the association.  

The group represents numerous academic staff associations at several universities in Nova Scotia. Its members include a wide range of staff, including tenured professors and librarians.  

The association's concerns mirror those made by Nova Scotia's auditor general last week. 

In his report, Michael Pickup said the Department of Labour and Advanced Education "has no accountability" for grants it gives to 10 universities. He says funding allocation — based on 2011 enrolment levels — is out of date.

'Sustainability concerns'

The department is not regularly monitoring the financial health of universities, Pickup said, and should develop a strategic direction to address "sustainability concerns."

Furlong said his association has been warning the provincial government about these problems for years, but has been ignored.

He said he hopes the Department of Advanced Education "will actually be willing to listen to the things that faculty, students and staff had to say about how decisions are fundamentally made at our universities."

That would be a change for the association, which hasn't been able to meet with Advanced Education Minister Kelly Regan since the Liberal government was elected in 2013. 

"Faculty, students and staff are in just as much of a position to help shape the university as the administrators or the boards of governors," Furlong said. 

Regan wasn't available for an interview Monday. 

However, a spokeswoman for the department said the province is committed to meeting the recommendations made by the auditor general. She said the department also wants create a university system with greater accountability. 

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