[MEDIA RELEASE] Andrew Weaver: University Boards Need More Independence

Victoria B.C. - Andrew Weaver, Leader of the B.C. Green Party and MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head, is offering concrete steps for how the B.C. Government can remove the potential of political interference in University Boards.

“The independence of a University Board is critical. The purpose of a university is to educate people who can critically assess information to allow them to participate in an informed manner in a democracy. It’s a place that allows for innovation and creativity to flourish. It’s not a place for government to impose a top down imposition of its ideology” says Weaver. “Unfortunately, under current legislation the government has the potential to interfere in ways that could undermine that autonomy.”

Today Andrew Weaver introduced a bill in the B.C. Legislature that, if passed, would remove the ability of a Board of Governors to appoint a Chancellor, and that would reduce the number of provincial appointees on University Boards. 

“It is highly troubling to me that the majority of University Board members at universities in our province are appointed by the provincial government. Equally troubling is that the University Board of Governors appoints a university’s Chancellor.”

In 2008 the BC Liberals amended the University Act to allow the University Board of Governors to appoint a university’s Chancellor. The BC NDP started this trend in 1997 by allowing the Board of Governors at the Technical University of BC to appoint its Chancellor.  

“At UBC we’ve seen the Board of Governors interfering in a behind-the-scenes way to push out the University’s President,” says Weaver. “At UNBC we’ve witnessed the highly controversial appointment of a Chancellor. Even the Board itself was highly divided on the appointment - it only passed by one vote.”

The main concern with what has occurred at UBC and UNBC is that politically appointed members on both University Boards may have taken intrusive actions into the direction that these universities are taking. This in turn has huge implications for the governance of universities across the province.

“The potential of political interference is unacceptable for our institutions of higher learning. My hope is that the government takes my suggestions for solving this issue seriously and takes action on this issue immediately to preserve the independence of our academic institutions.”

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Media contact
Mat Wright, Press Secretary
Office of Andrew Weaver, MLA
1 250 216 3382
mat.wright@greenparty.bc.ca

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