Teach me, teacher

Okay, I just read the press release from the Canadian Association of University Teachers urging the NB government to reject the post secondary task force recommendations.

“No other province in Canada has downgraded a university into a polytechnic – it is usually the other way around,” said Greg Allain, CAUT president.

Okay, I am taking a poll. The task force says that a polytechnic is not a ‘downgrade’ and that it is a research-intensive and focused approach. He cites CalTech, Virginia Tech and several schools in Europe as examples.

So which is it? A better model for Saint John and the North or a downgrade?

Teach me, teacher.

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0 Responses to Teach me, teacher

  1. Matthieu says:

    That’s a very good question! I’m wondering the same thing. In the report, they mention MIT. And then later, they mention that the new polytechnics would offer college diplomas as well as bachelor’s degrees (and possibly masters and Ph.D.s). I’m not sure that the whole concept of polytechnics is even clear to them…

  2. trevor says:

    This is why there needs to be a substantial debate to take place before a decision is taken. I think what people are scared of is that the transition will take place before all stakeholders clearly understand what the change will mean. The fear expressed in the news and from people I speak to is the fear of unknown.

    This is when we should hear from the opposition party in NB on more clarity for what this recommendation means for all stakeholders.

    Personally, I can’t say either way because I have no idea if this change means the creation of an MIT, a Ryerson or a glorified NBCC?

  3. NB taxpayer says:

    A debate trevor? You’re right! However, you forgot one important detail, that being that this is a province where debates only take place at an intermural level a few weeks before an election once every four years. I mean honestly, when is the last time there has been a good debate on ideas in NB?

    Furthermore, in order to have a true debate you have to have parties on both sides of the aisle that advocate ideas they are willing to stand strongly behind.

    At the moment, ideas from the government side originate from pseudo, unaccountable bureaucrats and academics writing task force reports and studies. In other words, elected officials are not leading, they’re following.

    Plus, it doesn’t help when the opposition is intellectually bankrupt when it comes to their criticisms.

  4. richard says:

    UNB President McLaughlin said “That great American model, that the world envies,…is not about stand-alone competing institutions,” he said. “There is no University of California. There is a University of California system.”

    The US land-grant college system is what he is blabbering about. Problem is, no Canadian university has ever (with 1-2 possible exceptions) attempted to move in this direction. Land grant colleges have proven their worth; but those universities were given a mission and that mission ivolved outreach and meeting the needs of their communities. Can you imagine most UNB academics getting involved in such a mission? I cannot.

    If he is serious, then let us see his alternative. Typically land grant systems have one massive main campus with a series of affiliated campuses that offer undergrad degrees but are generally weak in terms of research and grad studies. So I suspect what he is suggesting is that UNB-Fred be the big guy and everyone be a feeder school for them. Sorry, Pres, but that won’t wash unless you can adopt the mission part of the land-grant system as well. Will you do that?

  5. Trevor says:

    I do find it frustrating that pressure on the govt is not being done to have them clarify the following 2 question (At least from my perspective):

    1) What is the goverment’s definition of a polytechnical institute?

    2) Based on Rick Miner’s comments on News 91.9 yesterday that things will not change much if the recommendations do take place, why then are we embarking on this rebranding exercise if no improvemts will be brought to the post secondairy system?

    If the goal is to have the same system but with a different name then please spare us the expense!

  6. Anonymous says:

    I think we need to get worse before we get better. Let’s put a university in every community with a hockey rink. Let’s offer every degree program in existence. Let’s stretch the funding so thin that quality drops to that of elementary school.

    Then maybe people will be ready to discuss appropriate resources for our province, recognize that one or two world class facilities will effectively attract students, and faculty while offering a better product. Guess what, IBM, RIM and others might actually flow research dollars into such a facility.

    If we are worried that some poor student may have to commute a couple hours from Bathurst to Moncton, or 60 minutes from Saint John to Fredericton well, there are ways to oversome that with leading edge technology such as university dorms and busses (cripes,subsidize them if we have to).

    While we are fighting over foolishness, stop and think that a 60 minute commute to U of T would be considered reasonable. Think about the 100s of students that have a university in their home town and leave town to go to an alternate school anyway.

    We are doomed to medocracy if we keep up this geographic family feud. We are wasting energy, resources and time.

  7. mikel says:

    The recommendation was to combine the university in Saint John with te community college to make a polytechnic.

    It says nothing about changing the courses or faculties or research structure. The report clearly wants profs working a hell of a lot harder (not necessarily a bad thing).

    IF the comparison is with Virginia Tech then it would be a GOOD thing, because clearly it means making Saint John independant of Fredericton, in essence giving them there own school.

    This could partly be the fault of media as not much of the report except the contentious stuff ever came out. Interesting, considering their first article was all about how ‘people will be saying all kinds of things, we’ll give you the straight dope’.

    IF its ONLY a combination of the college and university, then that’s one thing, if its meant to be like Virginia Tech then that’s something else.

    If you take a look at Virginia Tech you quickly realize that it is no different than any canadian university, thats any BIG canadian university.

    So once again the report is doing a little dancing. It’s trying to make it sound like NB is ‘blazing a trail’ when it is desperately trying to catch up to other provinces.

    As the report says, its crazy that the province has no medical school, no pharmacy school, and no veterinary school. That makes a huge professional loss, especially since equestrian sports are quite big in NB. There is also no architectural school.

    Virginia Tech is essentially the University of Guelph with the architectural school of the University of Waterloo tacked on.\

    I’ve staked my claim on that before, IF thats what they have in mind then thats fantastic. I know David may lament that it means training architects who will then move to Toronto, but so what, you still get the tuition from them.

    And for the California model, just go to the website, UNB has ‘satellites’ already, mostly for nursing for some reason. Even one in Cairo and a faculty of nursing partnership with Humber College in Toronto, which, guess what, bills itself as ‘the best in polytechnic education’.

    Perhaps politicians were hoping people wouldn’t do any research when they said they wanted to ‘be the model that everyone will follow’. Those without internet access or much experience may take them at their word, but after reading this report twice and researching it a bit, its clear that this is a desperate attempt to get New Brunswick to catch up to other provinces.

    However, it takes money to do all these things, and many of them are initiatives that universities would LOVE to enact, so the bureaucracy they want to create to ‘force’ universities into line seems like overkill.

  8. mikel says:

    To address the point above, this report is at least politically feasible. IF Saint John is to be a bigger and better university (or polytechnic or whatever you want to call it), then people in Saint John will quickly change their minds.

    How to do that is simple. Announce a veterinary and pre-med faculty immediately. Negotiate a architectural school with another school or have a faculty. Then people in Saint John will QUICKLY change there minds.

    However, like I said, you can’t expect the north to have an even fighting chance if EVERY educational institution is in the south. But the poster is right on, have ONE ‘world class’ facility. That again takes money, because of course ‘world class’ means PROFESSORS and RESEARCHERS. At the university level nothing else matters. In marketing most places dub themselves world class, but it means little.

    But its just as easy to have a world class faculty in a different area. So put forestry in the north, put psychology in Bathurst.

    But it deals with different issues, the poster above simply says to just empty out the north as has been done in the past. The problem for the north, and for many in the south, is that that is the OPPOSITE of what is desired. One reason wages are still low in Moncton is because all the people that come from the north right after high school to find a job.

    International students WILL come, there’s LOTS of Indians and Chinese out there, like I said, here in Waterloo its very often the case that white males at the university are very much in the minority.

    But nobody has even HEARD of New Brunswick. I asked a chinese friend why she brought her daughter to school in ontario and not New Brunswick, and she’d never even heard the words before, she didn’t even know that anything was beyond Quebec.

    But you can’t expect people to rush to nursing schools, hell, Taiwan has a better medicare system than Canada now. They aren’t going to come to take Arts or business, they can learn those better at home.

    You have to have the faculties they want, and you have to let them know you exist.

  9. Trevor says:

    In response to Anon with the commute, I have to say I agree. But I would expand the argument for workers to also be able to commute to each community using a light rail system to lessen our overall dependence to automobiles and fossil fuels.

    All over Europe the people commute into London and other major centers to work. The reason is because they can use their light rail system to get into London in a 30 min train ride. Or, if you want to get from London to Paris, that’s an hour commute! This eliminates the need for a second family car and makes finding employment and doing business much easier.

    If we had a light rail system connecting SJ, Fred, Miramichi, Moncton and Halifax; workers, business and students in the region could move more fluidly around the area.

    If we make the commute between Fred and SJ a 20 minute train ride, that negates the argument of student debt cost associated with a SJ students attending UNB Fred, ST Thomas, MTA, Dal or UdeM.

    As I would love to see this happen, I know that many will disagree with me based on cost for building such a system. All I would like to say about that is that I am not asking for a cheque to be cut, but shouldn’t we have reasoned debate to discuss what the province should look like in 20-30 years? What are we afraid of, that we actually like the ideas?

  10. richard says:

    “Announce a veterinary and pre-med faculty immediately.”

    You need a population to supply students to those schools. The vet school in PEI serves the Maritimes quite well. Does every province need a vet school? How many vets do we need (hint: there is not a shoratge of vets)? How about trying something that PEI and NS are not doing already?

    The SJ polytechnic should aim for univ status and imho focus on science applications pertaining to energy (LNG, oil, biofuels).

    Pump up the UNB forestry school, give them a mission to develop bioenergy and bioproducts from wood waste, to develop workable community forest models for local communities. Then give those communities wood allocations. Let them control their own futures (you’d be surprise at how competitive they might be).

    The province as a whole needs people. Industrial strategies are needed that attract people to good paying jobs. Mikel’s suggestion re Microsoft is a good one, although I might ask them (MS) first what they thought they needed.