Budget cuts on campus: what to know

The economy stinks. Canada’s unemployment rate soars. Tuition continues to increase. Class sizes are getting bigger. Harvey Weingarten received a $4.75 million pension. It is tough being a student at the University of Calgary these days.

The U of C, like many other schools, businesses and companies across Canada, has taken a hit thanks to a tough economy. Having a multi-million dollar deficit means the university is looking to cut costs wherever possible. In January 2009, it was learned that the falling markets cost the U of C $78 million in endowments and investments. The U of C announced in July that 200 jobs would be cut in the fall. Budget cuts have now spread into specific faculties and affected students’ education and experience.

“It’s not a pleasant situation for anybody at the institution, but the cuts are having a very negative effect on the student experience,” said Meg Martin, Students’ Union VP Academic.

Martin explained that students are concerned about the quality of education they’re receiving and want to get “the high quality of instruction and experience they’re paying for.”

She said the issue of budget and staff cuts is on the mind of every U of C student she speaks with.

“I haven’t run across one student who isn’t concerned, and I’m not likely to.”

Martin has heard from students regarding the fact, “their tuition continues to increase, but their class sizes only get bigger.”

Students have also told her “they care about the staff they were accustomed to interacting with and that their experience has been impacted because these people have been laid off.”

Martin said students are being affected by budget and staff cuts in a wide variety of ways, including losing front-line contacts such as departmental secretaries and advisors. Increased wait time for services and a decrease in IT and clerical staff translates into a decrease in maintenance of campus infrastructure.

Additionally Martin said there is less money to hire faculty, fewer people to deliver courses and existing staff have to compensate for staff that have left, meaning service levels are stretched thin.

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