(Ottawa – November 13, 2020) The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) has written to Colombian President Iván Duque Márquez to demand protections for executive members of the Federación Colombiana de Educadores (FECODE) teachers’ union. Death threats were made at the end of October through the delivery of a funeral wreath and individualized obituary notices.
“We are alarmed at these latest threats to the teachers’ union and are deeply troubled that violence towards social and union leaders has become far too commonplace in your country,” says CAUT Executive Director David Robinson in the letter.
CAUT joins with Education International (EI) and the global education community in condemning the chronic lack of safety of teachers and union leaders in Colombia, where more than 6,000 education unionists have been killed, threatened, or forcefully displaced over the last 30 years.
“CAUT urges your government to ensure the safety and the physical integrity of all individuals on the FECODE Executive Committee, and of all citizens who exercise their rights to express opinions, demonstrate, and organise in defense of the public education system,” the letter concludes.
(Ottawa – October 21, 2020) The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) and the Fédération québécoise des professeures et professeurs d’université (FQPPU) join their voices with those of all French educators to condemn the savage murder of a history teacher in France.
History and geography teacher Samuel Paty was killed for using caricatures of Mohammed to stimulate discussion in the classroom. This senseless attack is a reminder that teachers potentially place their lives at risk in practicing their profession; this murder not only constitutes an attack against the entire teaching profession, but also threatens freedom of expression and academic freedom.
Educational institutions and their staff must, at all costs, resist the temptation to self-censor or to avoid broaching any subject, including the most controversial words, concepts or theories, as indicated in a recent statement by Education International.
CAUT and the FQPPU offer their most sincere and heartfelt condolences to the family of Mr. Paty, and to his loved ones, colleagues and students. In memory of Samuel Paty, we must take a stand collectively and continue to fight so that schools, from preschool to higher education, will remain places of learning, where free discussion and ideas play a fundamental role in educating informed citizens who are capable of critical thinking, tolerance and humanity. Professors, teachers, and their institutions must never give in to such acts of terrorism.
Everywhere across the world, colleges and universities must continue to produce research and to disseminate knowledge, and must remain places where debate is encouraged. To achieve this, academic freedom must be supported and defended loudly and clearly, as a matter of public interest. In order to properly fulfill their roles, professors and teachers from all countries must have the right to teach, learn, study and publish without fear of being censored, targeted by fundamentalism, or threatened with reprisals or discrimination, both within their institutions and in the public space.
Only when our institutions unreservedly uphold academic freedom will it be possible for knowledge to continue to advance.
More than ever, we are all teachers.
(Ottawa – October 16 , 2020) Following this week’s announcement by the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) to hear appeals in protracted copyright litigation between York University and collective licencing agency Access Copyright, the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) will seek to intervene to voice concerns of post-secondary teachers, researchers and students.
“This case will be critically important to determine if the Supreme Court meant what it said in previous decisions and re-affirm the public interest position of the education sector,” said CAUT Executive Director David Robinson.
The Federal Court of Appeal’s ruling, which will now come under the scrutiny of the Supreme Court, stated that Access Copyright cannot enforce its tariffs against York University or any non-licenced user, a clear recognition that educational institutions can opt out of collective licensing arrangements and choose other legal routes to copy and use works, including through site licensing, open access materials, transactional licences and through fair dealing. The Federal Court decision, however, failed to correct the lower court’s flawed comments on fair dealing. The Federal Court decision was appealed by both York University and Access Copyright.
“CAUT will urge the Supreme Court to decisively rule on what constitutes fair dealing for education purposes, and preserve the balance resulting from its previous decisions that enables public access to works, while balancing the rights of authors and creators to reasonable compensation,” added Robinson. “To do otherwise would render the fair dealing exception illusory for post-secondary education, spelling huge costs for universities and colleges, and backtracking to the past, rather than looking to a future which is sustainable and fair for both creators and users of copyrighted works.”
CAUT and the Canadian Federation of Students intervened at the Federal Court of Canada, arguing against mandatory tariffs and the lower court’s ruling on York University’s fair dealing purposes.
CAUT represents 72,000 academic staff that produce tens of thousands of articles, books and other works every year, making CAUT one of the country’s largest creator groups in Canada.
Lisa Keller, Communications Officer, Canadian Association of University Teachers; (c) 613-222-3530; email@example.com
(October 15, 2020) The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) is raising serious concerns about the University of Toronto’s investigation into a hiring controversy in the Faculty of Law.
Following a competitive search for the Director of the International Human Rights Program, a hiring committee unanimously recommended Valentina Azarova. She says she was offered the job on August 11 and accepted on August 19. However, in early September, it is alleged that a sitting judge with the Tax Court of Canada raised concerns about Azarova’s appointment and her offer was subsequently revoked. The judge is also a major donor to the University.
“The facts that have emerged strongly suggest the decision to cancel Dr. Azarova’s appointment was politically motivated, and as such would constitute a serious breach of widely recognized principles of academic freedom,” says CAUT Executive Director David Robinson.
In response to the ongoing controversy, on October 14, the University announced the creation of an “impartial investigation” headed by Bonnie Patterson, former president of Trent University and the Council of Ontario Universities.
Robinson says there are serious flaws with the scope and mandate of the investigation that undermine its credibility.
“Given the seriousness of the case, what is needed is an independent review,” he says. “Instead we have a deeply flawed review where the investigator is appointed by and reports to the Vice-President for Human Resources who has already publicly defended the Dean’s decision to terminate the hiring of Dr. Azarova.”
Robinson adds that the terms of reference do not include an assessment of important aspects of the case.
“Was Dr. Azarova offered a job, as she and the search committee claim, or not offered a job, as the Dean claims? What was the substance of the judge's intervention and the Dean's response? These questions lie at the heart of the case but are silent in the University’s statement about its investigation.”
Robinson also notes that the University’s announcement emphasizes that the search was for “a non-academic staff position within the Faculty of Law.”
“In framing it this way, it appears the University is trying to avoid any consideration of whether academic freedom might have been breached,” he states. “This should be of concern to all academic administrators at the University of Toronto who should be afforded academic freedom in their academic duties.”
The CAUT Executive Committee will be reviewing the case today and considering further actions, including sanctions against the University of Toronto.
(Ottawa – October 2, 2020) October 5 is World Teachers’ Day and the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) joins with teachers’ associations and unions in Canada and around the world in celebrating it.
This year’s theme — “Teachers: Leading in Crisis, Reimagining the Future”, reflects the extraordinary efforts of teachers worldwide, from Kindergarten to Grade 12 and throughout post-secondary systems to ensure the health and safety of students and their education continuity during the global pandemic.
Through CAUT’s membership in Education International, a Global Union Federation that represents organisations of teachers and other education employees, we are united in promoting the principle that quality education, funded publicly, should be available to every student in every country.
School closures are changing the nature of teaching and learning as well as the conditions of work, and as CAUT’s survey of stressors caused by COVID-19 on the academic workplace reveals, many teachers and staff have seen increased workloads while facing new technological and social challenges, including a greater need to provide support for both their families and their students.
Register to hear CAUT President Brenda Austin-Smith participate on a virtual panel on World Teachers Day (7:50 p.m. CDT) to discuss the critical issue of teacher wellbeing in the context of the pandemic and the role of education unions in charting new, more sustainable approaches to ensuring teacher wellbeing.
(Ottawa – September 28, 2020) The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) has written to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan demanding the immediate release of Cihan Erdal, a Carleton University doctoral student who was visiting Istanbul when he was arrested along with dozens of other academics and politicians for unknown reasons on September 25.
“Mr. Erdal was in Turkey to visit family and to conduct fieldwork as part of his doctoral research in Canada. His research on youth-led social movements in Europe, including in Turkey, focused on the stories of young activists,” says CAUT Executive Director David Robinson in a letter. “CAUT condemns, in the strongest possible terms, the actions taken against Mr. Erdal and is calling on the Turkish government to immediately drop all charges against him and the other 81 academics, politicians, and activists.”
Carleton’s Department of Sociology and Anthropology is also urging Canadian and Turkish authorities to facilitate release of Erdal and the 81 others arrested, and to ensure Erdal’s safe return to Canada, where he is a permanent resident. Hundreds of scholars have already signed on to the Department’s petition.
Erdal is likely being targeted for events dating to 2014 in which he — along with the other 81 individuals who were detained — was a signatory to a letter calling for the Turkish government to step in to protect a Kurdish town from ISIS attacks.
(Ottawa – September 24, 2020) The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) welcomes the renewed commitments in the Speech from the Throne to strengthen social programs, such as child care and Employment Insurance, take more action to address climate change, and create good jobs, but is troubled that no commitments were made to research or post-secondary education.
“The Speech acknowledged how vital research and science are for our future, but the government missed an opportunity to strengthen universities and colleges, which are the foundation of our knowledge infrastructure,” said CAUT Executive Director David Robinson.
He added that although CAUT welcomes the decision to extend the wage subsidy, universities and colleges are still left out of the program. “Some institutions have already laid off staff, cut educational and research programs, and raised the cost of tuition.”
CAUT is calling on the government to commit to a national plan for post-secondary education, which strengthens science and research, and improves accessibility, affordability, and quality of post-secondary education.
“The Throne Speech made some ambitious promises to address some of the inequities and challenges made worse by the pandemic, but there are gaps in the plan. We hope to see more than words and look forward to a commitment in the budget to work with universities and colleges as critical partners in the recovery and in a more prosperous, just and green Canada,” noted Robinson.
(Ottawa – September 21, 2020) The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) has written to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to urge development of a national pandemic recovery plan that includes strategic investment in Canada’s post-secondary education (PSE) sector.
“This pandemic has demonstrated the unsustainability of the current patchwork approach to PSE policy at all levels. A stronger federal partner is needed,” writes CAUT President Brenda Austin-Smith in the letter.
“Universities and colleges are integral to a strong, stable and resilient Canada, growing the knowledge, innovation and talent needed to solve current and future challenges. However, the sector is under considerable strain that is negatively affecting jobs, the diversity of educational programs, and access to opportunities.”
In its recent pre-Budget submission, CAUT pointed to the critical need to improve the affordability and sustainability of PSE as part of any recovery plan and made several recommendations, including:
- Develop a national strategy with the provinces and territories that provides adequate, stable federal funding to support quality post-secondary education.
- Accelerate research through enhanced investments in the Tri-Councils granting programs and increase graduate student scholarships.
- Secure opportunities for Canada’s youth & unemployed Canadians by moving to a free tuition model for low and middle-class Canadians at public universities and colleges.
(Ottawa – September 21, 2020) The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) is investigating allegations that the University of Toronto bowed to outside pressure in rescinding an offer of employment to an internationally recognized scholar.
Following a competitive hiring process, Valentina Azarova was the unanimous recommendation for the post of Director of the International Human Rights Program in the Faculty of Law. Azarova says she was offered the post by videoconference on August 11 and accepted the offer the following week. In early September, a sitting judge with the Tax Court of Canada contacted the Faculty of Law to express concern about Dr. Azarova’s appointment, and shortly after, her job offer was withdrawn.
In a letter to the University, CAUT Executive Director David Robinson concluded that “it appears the decision to cancel her appointment was politically motivated, and as such would constitute a serious breach of widely recognized principles of academic freedom.”
“An institution of higher learning fails to fulfill its purpose and mission if it accedes to outside pressure or asserts the power to proscribe ideas, no matter how controversial,” Robinson stated. “This would create an environment inimical to the free and vigorous exchange of ideas necessary for teaching and learning.”
In response, the University has not denied that a Tax Court judge contacted the Faculty to express concerns about the candidate but claims no job offer was made. Members of the hiring committee contest this and have resigned in protest.
Robinson says that CAUT will be pursuing the matter consistent with its procedures
(Ottawa – September 7, 2020) This Labour Day, the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) joins in celebrating the contributions of the trade union movement to improved working conditions, health and safety protections, and social programs.
COVID-19 has amplified inequities in society and within our own post-secondary workplaces. Today, we urge academic staff to take this Labour Day to reflect on what has been achieved through our collective action and on what more needs to be done to get through this crisis and to build better universities and colleges.
“We need to move forward to a more just and fair post-COVID Canada for all workers. In the academic workplace, this means putting an end to casualization and discrimination, and improving working conditions for all,” noted CAUT Executive Director David Robinson.
“We are stronger together. Only through collective action will we improve working conditions for all and address the issues of precarity and inequity in the academic workplace and in our communities,” says CAUT President Brenda Austin-Smith.
CAUT is tracking institutional plans for delivery of courses during the pandemic. We have compiled a database of more than 110 institutions' back to school plans, including the mode of delivery chosen for the Fall 2020 semester and links to each institutions’ health and safety plans. The database can be found here.
CAUT has also developed a checklist for measuring institutional re-opening plans based on recommendations from member associations and public health-informed guidance.
We looked at which universities and colleges are:
- Fully on-line
- Primarily on-line
- Primarily in-person
- Fully In person
Below are highlights from our compilation of re-opening plans for Fall 2020:
- The majority of institutions (55%) will be delivering their courses primarily on-line for the fall semester. Most instances of in-person learning in these cases are limited to course components that cannot be held virtually.
- Twenty-five percent of institutions are going forward with blended learning, meaning a mix of online, hybrid (i.e. online and in-person components) and in-person classes.
- Sixteen percent of institutions will hold courses fully online.
- Few institutions are going back to "traditional" teaching, with only two percent holding classes primarily in-person and one percent fully in-person.
- Two percent of institutions have yet to announce their fall semester plans.
CAUT determined fall delivery plans by reviewing each institution’s website, using language within statements, course schedules, FAQ sections, and other relevant areas within the sites to identify the delivery plan type.
- Institutions choosing to exclusively provide online classes for the fall were coded as “Fully Online”.
- Where an institution expressed using in-person classes only in special circumstances (such as when specialized equipment is required or specialized labs or when online teaching is not possible) and offering all other classes online, the delivery plan was listed as “Predominantly Online”.
- Delivery plans were coded as “Blended” where an institution’s site expressed using a mix of online, hybrid and/or in-person classes. These decisions relied heavily on the institution’s language, as many used the terms “mixed”, “blended”, “hybrid” or similar wording in their plans.
- Institutions that expressed delivering most of their classes in-person were listed as “Primarily in-person”.
- Where no information could be found on an institution's plan, whether on their website or through news sources, or where an institution had not yet finalized their plan, they were listed as "Unknown/to be determined".
As things are sure to change and evolve over the coming months, CAUT will continue to monitor how universities and colleges are protecting the health and safety of the campus community. If you believe your institution’s mode of re-opening has been miscategorized, please let us know by sending an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(OTTAWA— 20 August, 2020) A survey conducted by the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) shows that the pandemic has significantly increased the workload and the stress level of academic staff across the country.
“Post-secondary staff moved overnight to ensure education continuity for millions of students this spring. The pandemic created a set of new challenges that needs to be understood and addressed to ensure quality of education this fall,” explained CAUT Executive Director David Robinson.
Amongst the key findings of the survey, a majority of academic staff from universities and colleges are working more than before COVID-19 with almost one-third working more than 10 additional hours per week. A total of 84% of respondents reported somewhat or much higher stress levels due to the pandemic, balancing work and dependent care, challenges with teaching and research, and job insecurity.
Other survey key findings:
- ·About 1 in 10 have seen their work eliminated or reduced since the pandemic;
- 68% of respondents are worried about the challenges of remote teaching;
- Two out of three are researching less or not at all due to the inability to hold or attend conferences, dependent care responsibilities, inability to access labs or offices, not being able to conduct in-person research, and increased teaching demands;
- Only 1 in 4 feel that they are consulted before decisions that affect them are made; and,
- Respondents identified safe childcare, more access to mental health services, and technological assistance among the resources most needed.
“Academic staff are worried about their students, their research, and their jobs. It is not clear how the concerns about remote teaching, research and jobs at universities and colleges are going to be addressed without more government and institutional support for post-secondary education,” added CAUT President Brenda Austin-Smith.
CAUT surveyed 4,300 academic staff from all provinces between May 13 and June 12, using crowdsourcing data collection. The findings offer valuable insights on the experiences of participants.
Read the recommendations here.
(Ottawa — July 29, 2020) The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) condemns the dismissal of pro-democracy activist professor Benny Tai from his tenured position as an Associate Professor of Law at the University of Hong Kong.
“The firing of Professor Tai is another signal that academic freedom and civil liberties are under threat from the Chinese government,” said CAUT Executive Director David Robinson. “It sends a clear and chilling message not only to academics in Hong Kong, but to all of those pressing for democratic reforms and respect for human rights.”
Professor Benny Tai was a leading figure of the 2014 “Umbrella Revolution” protests in Hong Kong that paralysed the city for 79 days. Authorities arrested him last month, and sentenced him to 16 months in prison for two public nuisance offences.
(Ottawa – July 20, 2020) The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) says the recent federal announcement of $19 billion for provinces and territories for a “safe economic restart” is a welcome beginning. The priority areas identified in the agreement, such as paid sick leave, child care and long-term care, are insufficiently funded, and it leaves other vital public services out all together.
“The new agreement is a promising start but it leaves out the post-secondary education sector,” says CAUT Executive Director, David Robinson. “Universities and colleges are key partners through research and education in solving the current health and economic crisis, but are facing tremendous financial pressures as a result of the pandemic.”
“Our universities and colleges have been working hard to protect the health and safety, livelihoods and educations of millions of Canadians, but without assistance they will be forced to make more difficult choices. Already we have seen institutions forced to cut programs or raise tuition fees, just when Canadians can least afford it. Without greater federal investment in post-secondary education, we will see less educational opportunities and less research, compromising Canada’s recovery.”
CAUT represents 72,000 academic staff working at universities and colleges across the country. CAUT called in April for emergency operating funding to continue to deliver the high-quality, affordable and accessible education that underpins Canada’s prosperity.
(Ottawa – July 9, 2020) CAUT has written to Chinese President Xi Jinping protesting the arrest of professor Xu Zhangrun, and calling for the repeal of the National Security Act for Hong Kong.
“Xu has joined a growing list of people who have been imprisoned for exercising their civil and professional rights,” charges CAUT Executive Director David Robinson, in the letter. “This arrest and the far-reaching security laws effectively curtail freedom of speech and threaten academic freedom.”
Xu, a legal scholar at Tsinghua University, was arrested July 6 after openly criticizing China’s direction under Xi’s government, including laying blame last January for the Corona virus outbreak directly upon the Chinese leader. The National Security Act for Hong Kong came into effect on June 30 and is likely to be used to crack down on dissent.
(Ottawa – July 8, 2020) Members of the Faculty Union of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (FUNSCAD) have overwhelmingly voted no confidence in the College’s Board of Governors after the abrupt removal on June 26 of President Aoife Mac Namara.
“Our members have spoken,” says FUNSCAD President Mathew Reichertz. “The lack of transparency in the Board’s decision to remove the President after only 11 months in the position, and its unwillingness to share the reasons for its decision has created a vacuum of information that is destabilizing to the University and destroying our trust in the Board and its ability to responsibly fulfill its fiduciary duties.”
Over 95 per cent of FUNSCAD members voted, and more than 96 per cent voted no confidence.
Reichertz says the Board’s unexplained actions are damaging to NSCAD, and is calling for transparency about the decision. “The Board is the only entity that can repair this problem, either by providing a compelling and satisfactory explanation to the community it serves, and proving that it can act collegially and transparently; or by reinstating the President, and stepping down so that others who have the trust of the community may take up this important responsibility.”
(Ottawa — June 21, 2020) This year, the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) marks National Indigenous Peoples Day as five years have passed since the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) issued its landmark report.
The report documents pressing issues facing Indigenous peoples that still require attention, and the anniversary of its release is underscored by a global campaign against racism, sparked by the recent death of George Floyd at the hands of police officers in Minneapolis.
CAUT continues to press all levels of governments to act. As the TRC report notes, education policy can play a critical role in supporting the reconciliation process, but to do so we need to invest and be invested in the reconciliation process.
Academic staff associations, universities and colleges must urgently address systemic racism affecting Indigenous peoples which manifests in delegitimizing Indigenous cultures and knowledge. We must support Indigenization of the academy by undertaking proactive measures aimed at restoring, renewing, and re-generating Indigenous practices, languages, and knowledge; and by pursuing Indigenization through collective bargaining.
Today, as we celebrate the contributions of Aboriginal Peoples, we cannot forget the historic wrongs committed against First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities in Canada, and are reminded that all Canadians have a role to play in decolonizing, and building a more just country and world.
(Ottawa – June 10, 2020) In recommendations presented to the federal government, the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) is calling on Ottawa to allow universities and colleges to access the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS).
“Universities and colleges, like other organizations, need financial support to retain and pay employees during the COVID-19 pandemic,” says CAUT Executive Director David Robinson. “Academics and staff are taking urgent steps to continue to conduct research and provide education. This vital work will be significantly hampered if institutions cannot retain employees and maintain operations throughout this crisis.”
Whereas private educational institutions are eligible for the federal wage subsidy program, public universities and colleges are not. CAUT is recommending that the government extend eligibility for the CEWS to universities and colleges, and extend the timelines.
“We appreciate the government’s efforts to improve its wage and income support programs,” Robinson adds. “But there are still gaps that need to be closed.”
(Ottawa – June 3, 2020) – The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) stands in solidarity with communities around the world protesting racism, injustice, and inequality.
While the ongoing demonstrations have been triggered by the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, the outrage and anger being expressed have their roots in years of pent-up frustration with racism and inequality.
CAUT calls on political leaders, organizations, members, and all individuals to take immediate action against endemic racism and inequality. In particular, reforms are needed urgently to policing practices and the criminal justice system in order to end the discrimination and racism against Black, Indigenous and racialized peoples that has resulted in unwanted violence and lives lost.
CAUT renews its commitment to fight anti-Black racism in the community, on our campuses, and in the academic workplace. Anti-Black racism in the academy is evident in the under-representation of Black scholars, students and leaders in post-secondary education; in their over-representation in precarious employment; in racial profiling on campus; and in discrimination in hiring and promotion.
Our universities and colleges must do better. We need to be part of the solution by addressing the inequities that exist and by leveraging the knowledge and expertise of academic staff and students to develop concrete ways to end racism and inequality in our society.
(Ottawa – May 27, 2020) The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) joins with Canada’s unions in applauding the announcement by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that his government is working with the provinces to ensure ten days of paid sick leave for working Canadians.
“Mandated sick leave across Canada is often unpaid, leaving many workers with the choice between coming to work sick, or losing pay,” says CAUT Executive Director David Robinson. “In the post-secondary education sector, this meant the most vulnerable workers on campus were left in this position. This announcement is a welcome relief for all such workers.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted social issues like lack of sick leave, and has forced some workers to lose pay or even their jobs if they were required to stay home and self-isolate.