Contract U: Follow up statement

November 7, 2018

A note of information - November 7th 2018

Contract U: Contract faculty appointments at Canadian universities provides an analysis of the data that 67 Canadian universities provided in response to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request concerning faculty appointments. The FOI request was made to the 78 publicly-funded universities in Canada. The FOI questions are contained in Appendix A of the report.

Simon Fraser University (SFU) has since reached out to us with concerns about the accuracy of the data that they had submitted, and suggested that they may have improperly included some categories of staff that are not faculty while neglecting to include others. As the report notes, the analysis could only consider the data provided by the universities. 

In the interest of ensuring accuracy, the CCPA offered SFU the opportunity to resubmit data as per the original FOI request. The university accepted this offer and the researchers are currently reviewing the newly submitted data and seeking clarification to ensure that the data is consistent with the initial request. The CCPA will be happy to update our report as it relates to SFU if warranted.  

The most recent information available regarding faculty numbers, including both new and revised information from universities, can be found in the online database of contract faculty at www.contractu.ca.

This report represents the first systematic attempt to shed light on the prevalence of reliance on contract faculty in the higher education sector in Canada. The results suggest that the scale of the issue is significant and structural in a sector that is vital not only for the education of the next generation but for the social and economic development of communities across Canada.  

To paint a more complete picture of contract faculty in Canadian universities, there are many data points that would be useful to collect and analyze: the number of contracts, the number of individuals employed on a permanent basis versus on contract, the number of courses contract facultyare teaching, the length of their contracts, their wages, benefits, and working conditions. However, for now the report authors are limited to the data that they were able to systematically obtain through FOI, which is the number of appointments in any given year provided to permanent versus contract teaching engagements. Looking at appointments is a very important first step. As it was, with some institutions it was difficult to acquire the longitudinal data on even just the number of contract appointments at the university. 

As the report recommends, Statistics Canada must play a stronger role in data gathering and reporting on contract faculty, to ensure comprehensive, transparent, standardized and consistent data is gathered annually from all universities to give Canadians a clearer picture of this important sector and the people employed within it. 

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