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Field Guide to CAUT

What is CAUT?

Since its founding in 1951, the Canadian Association of University Teachers has been a passionate advocate for academic freedom, the integrity of academic work and high quality, and affordable and accessible post-secondary education in Canada.

We’re the national voice for over 72,000 academic staff at some 125 universities and colleges across the country. CAUT members are teachers, researchers, librarians and archivists, and other academic professionals.

Uniting academic staff associations across the country, CAUT strengthens collective efforts to provide first-rate education and research that benefits all Canadians. CAUT brings unique expertise to support the work of the dedicated leaders and activists of member associations who fight for better working conditions and rights, better learning conditions for students, and a more just and equitable society.

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CAUT’s core values

  • Defending academic freedom: we investigate violations, monitor institutional practices, and intervene to ensure members have the freedom to teach, research, and express their views inside and outside of the institution without interference.
  • Advancing the social and economic interests of members: CAUT supports member associations to make gains at the bargaining table, defend rights and advocate for policies and practices that improve working and learning conditions. CAUT also advocates federally on behalf of academic staff.
  • Protecting shared governance: academic staff must be involved in academic decisions to defend the interests of the academic community and promote transparency. CAUT works to maintain and extend the role of academic staff in the governance of their institutions.
  • Promoting civil liberties: academic freedom rests upon a broader foundation of freedom of expressions and respect for civil liberties. CAUT allies with like-minded organizations and works to protect and expand human rights and civil liberties in Canada and beyond.

What we do

We work with associations across the country, bringing national and international perspectives to help solve local challenges. We also bring local priorities to the national agenda, and together we’ve influenced federal policy and investments in research and post-secondary education.

What CAUT does for member associations:

  • We unite academic staff associations at over 120 colleges and universities in every province. As the trusted and respected national voice of academic staff, we partner with national and international allies to defend and advance rights.
  • We strengthen local capacity. CAUT offers training, resources and funding to engage members and defend academic freedom, working conditions, and public post-secondary education.
  • We provide expert advice. Whether on legal, bargaining or policy, CAUT is there to provide guidance to inform and empower member associations to address emerging and long-standing issues.
  • We help defend academic staff interests. Through the CAUT Defence, Academic Freedom, Arbitration and Legal Funds, we support associations in job action and intervene in precedent-setting cases.
  • We connect people.   CAUT Council, forums, conferences, training and networks are platforms where association leadership can share and learn from counterparts across the country. Member Associations seeking participation in the broader labour movement are eligible to join the National Union of CAUT, and can access conferences and research conducted by the Harry Crowe Foundation, a charitable organization established by CAUT.
  • We provide unique tools. CAUT has robust data for local, regional and national comparisons of contracts, finances and working conditions. We can also support you in webhosting, managing membership data and grievance information, and undertaking political action such as petitions and letter-writing.

See how CAUT can support your association:

Collective bargaining

Grievance and Arbitration

Defending Academic Freedom

Defending the Integrity of the Academic Job

Membership Organizing and Engagement

  • Training – workshops and courses on organizing, member engagement, skills for new activists, and campaigning
  • Expert advice
  • Member relations software to support communications and engagement
  • Tools to engage members in actions


  • Training and guides on media relations and communications
  •  Media contact list and advice on media outreach and campaigns

Political Action

  • Campaign advice, support and training
  • Tools to launch a petition or letter-writing campaign
  • Opportunities to engage in advocacy including through lobby days
  • Civil Liberties Defence Fund

Advancing Equity

  • Training and guides on labour action for equity
  • Events to share knowledge, experiences and expertise
  • Reports and analysis on inequity and actions
  • Legal action and advice to protect and advance rights


  • Reach out to Presidents from across the country to ask questions and share expertise through CAUT listserv, CAUTgen
  • Librarians and archivists share knowledge, issues and expertise through CAUTlib listserv
  • Contract academic staff can stay in touch through CAUTcas listserv
  • Shape CAUT policy and priorities at Council. Council is where leaders think through and define CAUT policy and priorities, touch base with international speakers, politicians and notable academics in unique situations, refresh their perspectives on issues relating to the post-secondary sector, and gain a window on local, national and international trends of note
  • Participate in CAUT events, webinars, trainings, forums and conferences throughout the year

Strengthening your Association