Blouw discusses Laurier’s future
Yesterday, at 2:30 p.m. in the Senate and Board Chambers, president Max Blouw addressed the university community about Laurier’s current position within the post-secondary education system, concluding with what must change in order for the university to survive as an institution.
According to Blouw, these addresses will take place as regularly as needed to keep the Laurier community up-to-date on the university’s state.
Laurier’s future role
According to Blouw, in order for Laurier to stay alive in the ever-changing nature of post-secondary institutions, it is vital that the university differentiates itself from everyone else.
“We can’t be good at everything, and we also can’t be good at nothing,” said Blouw. “We need to choose a niche.”
Blouw added that research excellence will also be an effective means to set Laurier apart from other universities.
To do this, changes are going to have to be made to the Laurier system. Blouw mentioned that adjustments will be made to the curriculum and compensation expectations will be reduced, as the current cost curves are unsustainable.
“I realize this may result in workforce and student disquiet, but it must be done,” said Blouw.
“Those that are excellent, nimble and innovative are the ones that will flourish in the future,” he continued.
Blouw also noted that growth is inevitable, as it allows for balanced budgeting.
“We do not get enough money per student from the government, therefore we take in more students,” said Blouw. “It’s simply not sustainable.”
Laurier must position itself clearly within the Ontario university system in order to compete for funding from the government. The creation of the Laurier narrative hopes to establish an identity that is compelling to the government and that will make Laurier unique.
However, Blouw stated that we cannot rely on government funding in the future, but instead need to focus on the growth of the Brantford campus as well as developing graduate programs.
Blouw concluded that throughout the necessary changes, Laurier will be focused on building a strong academic and economic plan as well as social responsiveness.
“Laurier has exceptional opportunities among Ontario universities,” said Blouw.
Universities in Ontario receive less funding from the government than those in any other province in Canada, ranking 10th in the country. Investments in Ontario universities are also seeing a shift from public to private funding.
Blouw touched upon the fact that as universities become more competitive with each other, there will be more intense competition for the talent: staff, faculty and students.
- Canada has witnessed an almost five per cent increase in university participation between 1995 and 2005.
- There is a significant increase in females in undergraduate programs across the country.
- The tuition cap of £3,140 in the United Kingdom is causing universities such as Oxford to lose thousands of pounds each year.
- Institutions across the U.K. are lobbying for the cap to be lifted.
- Australia is falling behind the rest of the world in academics, as students are complaining about not being academically challenged.
- New Zealand is debating all aspects of higher education.
- In the United States, private universities have raised their tuition 440 per cent over the last 25 years, which is four times inflation, double that of health care.
- China is experiencing explosive growth, with more university students than Canada’s population.
- They have over 2,200 universities across the country.