The Sunday Edition

Class Struggle - an Ira Basen documentary

It is a black mark on the ivory tower, a story of insecurity, fear, jealousy, thwarted ambition, poverty and inequality. And it's a reality that university presidents, and many professors, don't like to talk about....
University of Toronto campus (Credit: Evan Mitsui/CBC)
Listen36:20

It is a black mark on the ivory tower, a story of insecurity, fear, jealousy, thwarted ambition, poverty and inequality. And it's a reality that university presidents, and many professors, don't like to talk about.

Universities in Canada - which threw open their doors this week to almost a million undergraduates - are propped up by a huge army of part-time teachers, who are highly qualified and poorly paid. They have no job security or pension, and little hope of ever getting a full-time position. They go by many titles: sessional lecturers, contract academic staff, adjunct faculty.

 Today more than half of Canadian undergraduates are taught by these very precarious workers, not by the big-name  - and well-paid - academics that universities like to feature in their recruiting ads. The institutions simply couldn't function without them. Higher education has a new business model. And it affects everyone on campus - the administration, the high-end "professoriate", the lowly sessionals and the students.

 Ira Basen's documentary is called Class Struggle.

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