Change is the new normal
The current economic predicament is a case in point
Our collective response to the pandemic has given way to a new problem: high inflation. One result for postsecondary institutions is a growing pressure to hike tuition. The University of Manitoba, for example, announced in late May it was raising tuition rates by an average of 3.7 per cent for the 2022-23 academic year, partly to “support rising educational delivery costs, including salary increases.” Inflation has also been cited by a number of faculty associations in recent labour disputes, and has led to calls for long-awaited increases in federally funded graduate scholarships. The list goes on.
The Bank of Canada raised its benchmark interest rate in June for the third time in months to help tame rising prices. But it’s unclear how much our inflation woes are due to domestic causes rather than international ones, so universities may have to continue to adapt.
One area that seems so far to have been spared from the economic tumult, at least in the higher-education sector, is philanthropy. As Mark Cardwell notes in his feature in this issue, Canadian postsecondary institutions raised a whopping $1.7 billion in 2021 (an annual total that fell only slightly during the pandemic). But what does the focus on fundraising mean for our universities?
Moira MacDonald’s cover story on veterinary schools expanding to deal with a national shortage of vets also speaks to the disruption of the last few years, insofar as the pandemic pet boom has exacerbated the problem. And rounding out our trio of features, we have a photo essay showcasing some of the many works by Indigenous artists that have been added to Canadian campuses within the last decade – which to me is an important reminder of some of the more hopeful changes underway.
Wherever this issue finds you, I hope the summer months provide an opportunity to relax, reconnect with friends and family, and step back from the whirlwind that seems to have become our new normal.