Post-secondary educators say cabinet shuffle creates more questions than answers

“The announced changes to what was previously called the Ministry of Advanced Education are puzzling because they divide what should be a unified portfolio of post-secondary institutions and initiatives,” said Cindy Oliver, President of the Federation of Post-Secondary Educators (FPSE) which represents over 10,000 faculty and staff working in BC’s post-secondary education system.

Oliver was commenting on the details of the provincial cabinet shuffle in which the Ministry of Advanced Education was divided into two new ministries:  the Ministry of Regional Economic and Skills Development and the Ministry of Science and Universities.

“FPSE lobbied for a long time to bring all the post-secondary education initiatives and institutions under one ministry. That lobby effort, as well as a report from the Auditor General’s Office, finally convinced the Premier to move our sector’s issues into a single Ministry in 2006. This shuffle undoes that work and many of us are left asking the question why,” Oliver added.

“Post-secondary education is a collaborative field but, to get the most out of that collaboration, you need to have a single Minister responsible for the entire system. Our concern is that dividing those responsibilities between two Ministers may well detract from the kind of collaboration that we think is necessary and possible,” Oliver stressed.

“One of the really puzzling features of this shuffle is that the provincial government has opted to do something that no other province in Canada does: divide the public post-secondary education system between two Ministers,” Oliver noted. “If there is a compelling public policy objective to be achieved through this approach, it’s one that has not been identified in other jurisdictions and one that we worry may elude the post-secondary education system here in BC. We will be contacting the two new Ministers to get a better clarification about how they will work to ensure effective coordination of post-secondary education programs, policies and funding,” Oliver concluded. 

For more information, please contact FPSE Staff Representative Phillip Legg, 604-873-8988.

About FPSE

The Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of BC is the provincial voice for faculty and staff in BC teaching universities, colleges and institutes, and in private sector institutions. FPSE member locals, represented by Presidents' Council and the Executive, represent over 10,000 faculty and staff at 18 public and 12 private sector institutions.