Today in the legislature I reintroduced a private member’s bill now entitled Bill M204 —University Amendment Act, 2017. The purpose of this bill is to halt the creeping government interference in university governance, an issue I have previously raised.
I provided a detailed rationale for the bill l when I first introduced it in February 2017.
Below I reproduce the video and text of today’s introduction along with the accompanying media release.
A. Weaver: I move that a bill intituled the University Amendment Act, 2017, of which notice has been given in my name, be introduced and read a first time now.
I’m pleased to be introducing a bill, intituled the University Amendment Act. Universities in this province of British Columbia serve a key role in an economy that is increasingly driven by knowledge, information and ideas. Academic freedom is a fundamental tenet for a culture of learning to succeed and a key part of academic freedom is found in the right to participate in the universities governance. While the role of a board of governors is essential to a university, the governance of a university must also be independent.
It is with this in mind that I bring this bill forward today. This bill amends the University Act to ensure that appointees from the Lieutenant-Governor-in-Council cannot unilaterally set the tone and direction of a university board through having a majority of votes and that the university boards cannot unilaterally appoint a chancellor for their university.
This act also amends the University Act to change the composition — not the powers — of the senate for special purpose teaching universities.
The current composition of the senates of special purpose teaching universities gives the administration of these universities the majority vote. This harms the ability of the senate to keep the academic autonomy of the university at arm’s length from government.
This bill will bring British Columbia into the same university governance standards employed by much of the rest of Canada.
A. Weaver: I move that the bill be placed on the orders of the day for second reading at the next sitting of the House after today.
Bill M204, University Amendment Act, 2017, introduced, read a first time and ordered to be placed on orders of the day for second reading at the next sitting of the House after today.
Andrew Weaver introduces bill to protect the independence of universities
For Immediate Release
October 25, 2017
VICTORIA, B.C. – Andrew Weaver, leader of the B.C. Green Party, today introduced a Private Member’s Bill that would protect the independence of B.C. university governance. Weaver previously introduced this bill in February 2017, as well as similar legislation aimed at addressing the issue of university governance in 2016. The legislation would bring B.C.’s rules in line with the majority of other Canadian jurisdictions.
“Our universities must be a place where innovation and creativity are allowed to flourish,” said Weaver.
“In B.C., there has been a worrying trend of creeping political interference in university governance. The potential for government to drive a top-down imposition of its ideology in our academic institutions is absolutely unacceptable in a free democracy. This bill would ensure that B.C.’s university boards remain autonomous so that critical thinking and the untethered pursuit of knowledge can drive their work.”
This Bill amends the University Act to ensure that appointees from the Lieutenant Governor in Council cannot unilaterally set the tone and direction of a university board through having a majority of votes, and that university boards cannot unilaterally appoint a Chancellor for their university.
It also amends the University Act to change the composition of the Senate for special purpose teaching universities. As it currently stands, it is possible for the administration (instead of faculty) of these universities to have the majority vote which harms the ability of the senate to keep the academic autonomy of the university at arm’s length from government.
Jillian Oliver, Press Secretary
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