On March 4, 2022, faculty of the U of S College of Nursing passed a motion of no-confidence in the College’s Executive Team. The core impetus for the vote of no confidence is that the College of Nursing has been critically underfunded and the quality of nursing education has been compromised.
The USFA stands behind faculty in the College of Nursing. They are delivering the best program possible in a challenging reality. Problems within the College have been raised for years by faculty and by the USFA, yet they remain unaddressed. The frustration experienced by faculty led to this unprecedented vote.
The motion passed with an overwhelming majority of 51 (67.1%) Faculty Council members in favour, 20 (26.3%) against, and 5 abstentions (6.6%) despite deans and directors, voting members from other colleges, who had never before attended a Council meeting being invited to this meeting.
Funding and governance issues have exacerbated problems in the College over the past several years and faculty’s attempts to work collaboratively with the College’s Executive Team have failed. Faculty report being intimidated and bullied for critiquing the Executive Team. The Executive Team has not engaged in honest and transparent discussions about why recent decisions have been made, and it does not collaborate with faculty in decision-making. Nor does it consult with faculty, transparently explore alternatives with faculty, or provide any fiscal transparency to faculty. Moreover, the Executive Team does not consider the impacts of decisions, particularly those related to the rural and remote distributed “Learn where you Live” model of education. They have not fully considered the teaching and learning needs of students and educators: for example, the redistribution of seats to sites that are already at capacity reduces engagement with students in the critical clinical and lab learning environments.
The College has lost faculty, teaching loads have increased substantially, class/group sizes have ballooned, clinical placement time has decreased, and further workload increases are proposed for the upcoming academic year. Faculty cannot rise through the academic ranks because they are too busy teaching to engage properly in the required research and publication activities expected of them. the deteriorating working conditions that are well-known across the country have resulted in serious faculty retention and recruitment issues.
The funding problems in the College of Nursing began in 2014 when the University introduced the “Transparent, Activity-Based Budget System” (TABBS) funding model, which resulted in a significant 4-million-dollar deficit. The most recent budget cuts will have serious long-term consequences for patient safety and health outcomes in Saskatchewan.
This vote of no-confidence in the Dean’s Office represents a political call to action not only to the University of Saskatchewan but to the Government of Saskatchewan. A global pandemic and a national nursing shortage is not the time to close a campus when our Regina site can readily take 75-100 students and educate them with experienced faculty/instructors. Given the serious nursing shortage that is now on the horizon, it is time to reverse these budget cuts and reinvest in nursing education in Saskatchewan.
Reach out to faculty in the College of Nursing to learn about what’s happening firsthand.