10 Reasons to Drop the PPP and Stop the Cuts!

Chainsaw signThe University of Guelph Administration is currently promoting the “Program Prioritization Process” (PPP).  This process, which saw programs evaluated and ranked against each other, is designed to guide $32.4 million worth of cuts over the next three years.

For students, it means that while tuition fees continue to rise each year by $200-300, we are also facing massive cutbacks to the services we need and the quality and diversity of our academic programs.  It means we are paying more, and getting less.

The Guelph Student Mobilization Committee stands against the PPP and the proposed cuts for the following reasons:

  1. There’s no positive way to spin it: “Prioritization” when done with the goal of cutting millions means cuts, lay-offs, amalgamations, less diversity and decreased quality.  The release of the PPP report has also led to the public devaluation of many programs and it has had a damaging effect on the perception of UofG as a whole.
  2. Parking > class: Non-academic and academic programs were evaluated using the same exact criteria.  This led to some bizarre results, for example “parking services” being ranked much higher than the vast majority of academic programs.  In fact, out of the top quintile, only 44% were academic programs. Out of the bottom ranked quintile of problems, 84% were academic programs.
  3. Students were not involved: There were only two students on the “PPP task force” made up of 21 people and they were selected by the Administration and told not to “represent students’ interests”.
  4. Small = not valuable: Ranking programs based on size (“internal demand”) means that the inherent value in having diverse course and program offerings are not taken into account, in fact diversity in curriculum is discouraged.
  5. The “recommendations” hurt students: Some of the recommendations in the report included moving to many more online classes as a way to save money, getting rid of minors, raising tuition fees by even more in “professional” programs, attracting more international students because they pay a lot of tuition fees and can help with “revenue”.
  6. The cuts are massive: The college of arts (25.8% cut), college of management and economics (17.8% cut) and the college of social and applied human sciences (15.1% cut) are facing the biggest cuts.  This will drastically reshape the University of Guelph.
  7. We are leading Ontario down the path to privatization: Recently a leaked document from the Ontario government outlined a plan to “differentiate” Universities across the province.  The UofG Admin are now citing this as a key goal of the cuts in Guelph.  This means that different universities in Ontario will specialize in different programs.  It is also cover to cut “unprofitable” programs so the province can continue to underfund Post-Secondary. A key danger is moving towards a US-style system where small, underfunded public universities compete with fully privatized universities that are reserved for students who can afford massive tuition fees. Other Universities in Ontario are eyeing the PPP process and the restructuring at Guelph, making our campus key in ensuring the protection of a one-tier, quality, accessible education system in Ontario.
  8. It doesn’t have to be this way: The Ontario government continues to prioritize corporate tax cuts and paying back the relatively small deficit over funding public services.  For example, in 2010 there were $2.5 billion dollars worth of corporate tax cuts.  That was enough to fully fund post-secondary education (free tuition) in Ontario.
  9. Representing the government on campus, or campus to the government?: The Administration continues to say that there is no political alternative at the provincial level.  They say that they are arguing for accessible education, but continually say that tuition fees aren’t that bad.  They softly blame the cuts on the government and then say that the cuts are actually a good thing, that they’ll let us focus on fewer things, and therefore be able to do a better job.  Increasingly, students, faculty and workers at Guelph are not buying it.  We need the Administration to look out for our long-term interests.  One that demands increased funding from the provincial government.
  10. Students can stop the cuts: In 2009, there were proposed cuts to the Women’s Studies and Organic Agriculture majors.  Students mobilized (somewhat late in the game) behind the “cut the cuts” campaign and saved Organic Agriculture with a vote at Senate. In 2012, Quebec students stopped a 75% increase through mass mobilization that eventually defeated the Liberal government.  These experiences have shown us that if students mobilize for their own interests that it is possible to change the path we are on and win.

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The GSMC is working to:

Drop the PPP: The Administration wants to repeat the PPP every few years.  We say the process is flawed and dangerous.  Let’s make sure this is the last time this University carries out the PPP and that it is not recommended as a model for other Universities to use.

Stop the cuts:  These cuts cannot go ahead.  Gutting academic programs at the University of Guelph will mean that the quality of our education will be drastically decreased.

Reverse “differentiation” in Ontario: We think the University of Guelph Administration should be clear in letting the government know that “differentiation” is a dangerous path for our campus and the province as a whole.

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