OPSEU - CAAT Collective Agreement - Bargaining 2017 - Advanced Degree Recognition

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February 3, 2017

 

Re: Education Recognition – CAAT - Academic Employers Collective Agreement 

 

To: Ontario Public Services Employee Union (OPSEU)

In the upcoming months the Ontario Colleges and the OPSEU union representing college faculty, librarians, and counselors will be partaking in new negotiation talks surrounding a new collective agreement (expiry of existing agreement Sept. 30, 2017).  Please let this letter serve as formal communication from the full-time faculty in the Ontario Colleges system who feel that their advanced education has not been recognized due to the structure of the existing collective agreement.

The existing agreement (Job Classification Plans For Positions In The Academic Bargaining Unit
p. 120) outlines the guidelines the colleges should follow when determining the compensation for faculty. Formal education qualifications fall under section B and are capped at a maximum of 6 to be included into the salary schedule. Further, the current agreement equates a CAAT diploma/Post-secondary certificate, a university degree, and a work/study program to all receive the same contribution to the salary schedule (1.5 steps per year). 

For those who work in the education industry or have gone through the progression of formal education to achieve a terminal degree (Ph.D., etc.) we feel that this does not reflect the knowledge, skill, and expertise that advanced degrees bring to the college system in Ontario.  Further, the standards of the degree level programs in CAAT educational institutions are held to a much higher standard from the Ministry of Education and are formally assessed through the Post Education Quality Assessment Board (PEQAB) to ensure that a minimum of 50% of the faculty teaching in degree level programs offered by Ontario colleges hold a terminal degree in the field of study.  This has put pressure on the colleges to recruit and retain qualified (Ph.D.) faculty which seems to become more difficult due to the limited recognition of advanced degrees in the current agreement.

Degree level credentials are the fastest growing segment of college educational offerings. Data from the GTA colleges show that a total of 80 different degree-level programs are offered (Humber-28, Sheridan-25, Seneca-15, George Brown-10, and Centennial-2).  It is understandable why colleges are expanding the degrees they offer. First, they have a revenue generating product that lasts for 4 years as opposed to a typical 2-year diploma. Further, a typical degree-level program has a two-semester tuition fee of $8300 versus a two-semester diploma program that has a fee of $3800. The additional fees that are paid are justified by the increased value a degree has over a diploma but this additional value that is brought in by faculty does not get passed down to them in either monetary compensation nor time compensation.

This is not a new issue that will be discussed at the upcoming collective bargaining negotiations. But with further increases in the degree level programs across Ontario colleges and the difficulty of recruiting and retaining qualified faculty to teach in those programs this should be an issue that can benefit both sides of the table. Below is a list of potential proposals to help fairly compensate those faculty that are required to have a terminal degree to be hired but then are not acknowledged of having those credentials once hired.

1.      Adjust the Job Classification Plan for Positions in the Academic Bargaining Unit (Section B) to properly reflect the advanced and terminal degrees. (e.g. remove 6 step limit, differentiate between a diploma, degree, master’s degree, Ph.D., etc.)

2.      Due to the quality requirement of degrees from PEQAB degree level courses must have value-added content and quality over non-degree courses (diploma, graduate certificates, etc.).  With that comes additional planning, content preparation, feedback, etc. Due to this, faculty teaching degree level courses should be allocated more time on their Standard Workload Form (SWF).

3.      Currently, to reach the maximum level of the salary schedule one must hold a 4-year Canadian Baccalaureate Degree or equivalent. To provide incentive and increased compensation for those holding advanced and terminal degrees, multiple steps should be added to the salary schedule that would be obtainable for those with terminal credentials.

These potential recommendations will not only provide a fair compensation structure for those with advanced and terminal degrees but will also provide the college with tools to recruit and retain the faculty they require as degree level offerings at Ontario colleges continues to grow.

We welcome your feedback in regards to the above matter and hope this can be brought forth during the collective bargaining year of 2017.



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