Program Prioritization Process: The CSA speaks.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


(This is a statement issued by The Central Student Association and all opinions therein are of the CSA's only and do not necesarily reflect that of The Cannon, its staff or affiliates)


The Program Prioritization Process (PPP) is currently underway at the University of Guelph to facilitate the goal of cutting $32.4 million worth of our academic and non-academic programs. Imported to Canada from the United States by the University, this process ranks Guelph’s 492 programs and services into 5 quintiles. On October 2nd the PPP Taskforce Report including the rankings was released. These rankings are recommendations to help inform the impending cuts; no program is safe.

There are a number of fundamental problems with this process prompting great concern for your student’s union. Most concerning is that the evaluation of our programs prompted by the PPP is driven explicitly by budgetary targets. This results in our programs being valued for their revenue generating abilities or for the amount of money that could be saved through their downsizing or elimination. This is not an exercise in “prioritizing” with the goal of increasing the quality of education at Guelph.

A second major problem with this process is that it ranks all programs based on the same criteria. We are seeing everything from athletics to philosophy to parking to engineering being ranked against the same metrics. This fails to capture the unique value and aspects of our individual programs.

A third issue is that although this process has been ongoing for the past year, many students are only hearing about it now. Little has been communicated to students by the university about the PPP and the significant impact it could have on our programs and services. There has also been minimal opportunity for student consultation and input in the process, which leaves student concerns largely out of the decision-making processes.

Finally, although the University of Regina conducted a similar problematic process, the PPP at Guelph is considerably more top down in its approach. At Guelph, the process has been spearheaded by administration with support and guidance from a private external consultant. 

As a result of chronic underfunding of post-secondary education by the provincial government and repercussions at the institutional level, the quality of our education and university experience is decreasing. In Ontario, our tuition fees are skyrocketing while students in other provinces pay less than a third of what we pay. Now the PPP is pitting our programs against one another to the extent that our University sees more value in cutting some programs rather than saving them.

It is essential that our provincial government make post-secondary education a priority. The University Administration and the Board of Governors must join students in actively lobbying the government for increased funding instead of carrying out a cutting process, informed by things like the PPP, that will see the quality of our education decrease and jobs disappear.

With our university being one of the first institutions in Canada to carry out this prioritization method, all eyes are on Guelph to see how it plays out. Your CSA is concerned about the precedent that the PPP is setting for the state of post-secondary education not only in Ontario, but also across the country.

Find more information about the PPP, the PPP Taskforce Report and answers to frequently asked questions at: www.csaonline.ca/ppp/

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