September 25, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 16  

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Funding discrimination?

By Dan Dedic
Gazette Writer

The rich keep getting richer. Imitating real life, students in business and engineering programs are getting more money than those in arts programs.

A new study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives shows that as private companies make up a large portion of the contributions to universities, the funding goes to areas they deem important.

The Ontario government's Superbuild fund, which focuses on construction and infrastructure, gives 51 per cent of funding to business, engineering and computer science, while giving only three per cent of its funding to the humanities and social sciences, explained Heather-jane Robertson, the study's author. The three highest funded programs make up 24 per cent of the student body, while 40 per cent of university students are enrolled in the arts, she added.

"If this funding continues to go into engineering and business, instead of the arts, it truly shows what type of an education this [province] values," Robertson said.

Former president of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations Hank Jacek said he felt the amount of funding cuts for universities had left them at the mercy of private donors.

"This type of funding distorts the universities' mission. Private corporations want research in the areas that are of interest to them, not necessarily areas that benefit the students," Jacek said.

He added that since 1995 when the Conservatives came into power, universities have suffered bigger cutbacks than any other funded institution. "Universities have been treated worse than community colleges, hospitals and prisons," Jacek stated.

The Canadian Federation for Humanities and Social Sciences, while unable to comment on this particular study, conducted their own study which showed similar results. The study looked at the funding received from the Granting Councils for Research in Canada.

The Social Science and Humanities Research Council, in which 55 per cent of all researchers operate, receives 12.5 per cent of federal funding, said Jody Ciufo, director of public affairs for CFHSS. "The trend is endemic across the system, less [money] goes to the humanities," she added.

According to the study, 92 per cent of funding goes to Ontario's seven largest universities, while the 10 smaller schools receive the remaining eight per cent.



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