U of C’s strategy to deal with budget cuts

By Michael Grondin

The University of Calgary has begun to develop a strategy in response to the provincial budget cuts to post-secondary education. To increase consultation efforts, town hall meetings were held on March 21 and 27 at the U of C.

The U of C will be $47 million short in operational funding for the 2013–14 school year. The government reduced operational funding for post-secondary institutions in Alberta by 6.8 per cent, announced on March 7. At the 
U of C, specifically, that means a 7.3 per cent decrease in operational funding.

Just under 1,000 faculty members, staff and students attended the town hall on March 21.

U of C president Elizabeth Cannon, provost and vice-president academic Dru Marshall and vice-president finance and services Jake Gebert delivered the report and answered audience questions.

One of Premier Alison Redford’s campaign promises was to increase post-secondary funding by 2 per cent each year, meaning an annual increase of roughly 
$9 million, making this year’s cuts worse than expected.

However, Marshall said that, although the cuts are worse than anticipated, the U of C is still in good financial shape.

“There is no doubt, though, that 2013–14 is going to be a difficult year,” said Marshall.

The university hopes to balance the budget for the 2013–14 school year by using savings and by increasing revenue sources. Consultation efforts have just begun and no final decisions have been made on how the budget will be balanced.

Other possibilities to close the budget gap include increasing parking rates and international tuition rates. Final decisions have not been made at this time.

Speculations surrounding the budget’s ramifications to post-secondary education included faculty downsizing, leading to larger class sizes for students. However, 
Marshall said that faculty downsizing will not occur as a result of the budget cuts.

“We have to think about students and the student experience,” said Marshall. “After all the costs, we are trying to save people.”

For the 2013–14 school year, tuition will not increase more than the 2.5 per cent increase that has already been established. Raises are also not currently expected to occur to market modifiers or non-instructional fees. 

The university will continue its plans to hire 50 new faculty members and 60 new post-doctorates as well as continue to create a new Centre for Teaching and Learning.

The U of C has created a webpage where U of C members can give feedback on possible ways to remedy losses caused by the budget cuts at ucalgary.ideascale.com until April 30.

“It’s very important as a university community that you are informed, but you also feel that you have been consulted. We need your feedback at this very critical time,” said Cannon.

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