OTTAWA, Ontario – Students, academic staff, support staff, teaching assistants, and research assistants are all alarmed by the closing of the University of Ottawa’s Academic GPS. Home to some 90 student mentors, the Academic GPS was a vital hub for academic support to undergraduate and graduate students. It is the latest of many services to be eliminated due to budgets cuts, as the university’s Central Administration continues to tighten the austerity measures with which the university community has had to contend since 2015. This, despite the university reporting financial surpluses for most of the intervening eight years.
“Campus unions and student associations have been left out of every step of a budgeting process that consists of slashing the services necessary to maintain a high quality of education at the University of Ottawa,” said Susan Spronk, APUO President. “The Central Administration’s failure to be collegial and transparent about service cuts has created a climate of confusion and fear among the campus community.”
The lack of collegiality and transparency surrounding the latest round of cuts has also made it exceedingly difficult for the campus community to get a true sense of both their extent and consequences. Campus unions and students are dismayed to only be learning of the closures and service reductions through word-of-mouth once the services are no longer available. They are also demanding clarity about why Faculty and service budgets have been cut by five percent at a time when the Administration has deemed fit to spend some $51M on external consultants for purposes that have yet to be made public. The Central Administration’s continuing failure to engage seriously with the campus community and to leverage its perspectives, experience, and knowledge in budgetary decision-making is hastening a stark decline in the quality of education on offer at the University.
Members of the campus community have been raising the alarm for weeks about the consequences of the cuts and came out in force on April 20th to oppose the Central Administration’s budget for 2023-2024.
The Association of Professors of the University of Ottawa (APUO) is joined by the Association of Part-Time Professors of the University of Ottawa (APTPUO), the Support Staff of the University of Ottawa (SSUO), CUPE 2626, the University of Ottawa Students’ Union (UOSU) and the Graduate Student Association (GSAED) in calling on the Central Administration to immediately cease the implementation of its austerity plan, to inform the campus community of the all the cuts imposed throughout the past year, and to meet with union and association leaders to chart a path forward that ensures the integrity of the university’s teaching and research missions is upheld.