The failure to hire full-time faculty has led to a staffing crisis in Ontario colleges. Part-time, partial-load, and sessional faculty (collectively known as contract faculty) now outnumber full-time faculty nearly three to one, without accounting for the large number teaching in continuing education, online and part-time studies. Meanwhile, with tuition increases raising the cost of education, students are paying more for reduced access to securely employed and fairly-compensated faculty who can focus on students’ needs in the short- and long-term. As the number of administrators continues to climb – by more than 77 per cent since 2002-03 – so does their desire for a greater share of the limited funding pie.
Contract faculty deserve fair pay, sick days, and recognition of seniority. This seniority should also provide a clear path to bring these workers’ teaching experience into full-time positions when they become available. Too often in the current context, these faculty are left trapped in an ongoing cycle of short-term contracts.
The colleges’ reliance on a growing number of contract faculty hasn’t translated to better wages or working conditions for these precarious workers. Instead, they continue to earn a fraction of what full-time faculty are paid, despite being asked to do the same work. While exact wages vary between colleges, the average contract faculty pay for the equivalent of a full-time teaching load is less than $30,000. On top of that, most have no benefits or job security, and continue to be trapped in precarious work, year after year. These faculty are often given their course assignments at the last minute, and have little time to prepare courses or meet with students. Because their pay is so low, many have to supplement by working at multiple colleges or taking on other jobs.