Brandon University will be forced to make cuts and raise tuition fees in the wake of a 0.9% decrease in its provincial operating grant. A 15% cut to senior administration will make it possible to help preserve faculty positions as well as front-line staff, with a continuing priority on the student experience and student educational needs.
“As much as possible, we are insulating students from the direct impact of these unavoidable cuts,” said Dr. Meir Serfaty, BU’s Acting VP (Academic & Provost). “We are committed to providing students with a quality education and all of the supports they need to succeed.”
Because the provincial operating grant makes up more than three-quarters of BU’s operating revenues, even small changes can have a large impact. The budget announcement of a 0.9% decrease means BU will receive $339,000 less in 2018-19 compared to last year’s grant, which was frozen from the year prior.
Brandon University continues to strive to meet the programming and staffing needs of all faculties and units. A final 2018-19 budget will be presented to the BU Board of Governors for approval in May.
While Brandon University is expected to balance its budget in 2018-19, as it does every year, some of that will be accomplished through deferred maintenance, reduced investment in equipment, and careful reallocation of existing resources.
With costs expected to increase and few alternatives for new funding, BU’s budget proposal to the Board of Governors will seek approval for a 6.6% increase in tuition fees, according to Scott Lamont, BU’s VP (Administration & Finance). That would be equivalent to less than $25 per course and Brandon University students will continue to pay one of the lowest tuition rates in western Canada.
“A modest raise in tuition will help us continue to provide the important services that students tell us they value and require,” Lamont said. “However, an ongoing budget squeeze means there will continue to be challenges providing those services to the levels some students require.”
To address the provincial requirement to reduce senior administration positions by 15%, Brandon University has also been forced to make some difficult decisions.
All three Associate Vice-President positions will be eliminated. Several positions will also be downgraded or combined into new positions to find significant efficiencies. With the university anticipating for some time the provincial mandate, some positions were already held vacant and one has already been eliminated. Others will be phased out over the coming year as their contracts expire or as they retire.
The full list of eliminated positions is:
- Associate Vice-President (External)
- Associate Vice-President (Research)
- Associate Vice-President (Teaching & Learning)
- University Librarian
- Director, Information Technology Services
- Director, Institutional Data & Analysis
- Associate Director, Campus Manitoba
- Dean, Graduate Studies
- Facility Manager, Healthy Living Centre
The responsibilities of the Associate VP (Research) and the Dean of Graduate Students will be combined into a new role of Dean of Graduate Studies and Research.
The responsibilities of the Director of Information Technology Services, the Director of Institutional Data & Analysis, and the University Librarian will be combined into a new role of Chief Information Officer.
The responsibilities of the remaining positions will be assigned to new downgraded positions or distributed among existing staff.
“As a small university, we simply have very little room to cut and the cuts we are forced to make go that much deeper and hurt that much more,” said BU Interim President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Steve Robinson. “These people and positions are important to all of us and their absence will be deeply felt here at BU.”
As requested by the province, Brandon University continues to increase operating efficiencies and to reduce administrative costs while also continuing to invest in a quality teaching, learning and research environment for the benefit of students, faculty and staff as well as all of Brandon and Manitoba.
Brandon University also continues to expand on the fruitful collaborations that have been developed with communities throughout Manitoba to deliver educational programming in efficient, cost-effective and convenient ways. As well, our MOUs with the City of Brandon and Assiniboine Community College are paying significant dividends in the form of shared learning paths and applied research opportunities as well as the promotion of Brandon as a post-secondary education destination.
Commitments elsewhere in the budget include a new Kindergarten-Grade 8 school for Brandon — timely recognition that Brandon’s growing and diverse population rewards new investments to support education here.
“By far, it is students coming through Brandon schools who make up the largest single component of BU’s growing population. Students who are today in a Brandon elementary school will be choosing their Brandon University majors in just a few years,” Robinson said. “The demographics are clear: the city of Brandon is growing and we are a youthful city. We are also attractive to international students. Brandon University has now experienced five straight years of student enrolment growth, including 15 per cent in just the past two years, and we expect strong growth to continue in the future.”
A growing student population means BU contributes even more to the region and to the province’s economy. Brandon University’s most recent economic impact report, conducted with 2014-15 numbers, found that BU contributes more than $417 million to the Manitoba economy each year and is responsible for the creation of nearly 1,000 jobs in the province. For every dollar the provincial government invests in BU, the university provides $11.30 in economic impact.
“Our Brandon University faculty, staff, students and alumni make a lasting difference to our communities, and this is a point we continue to emphasize to the province,” Robinson said. “Our economic, social and cultural contributions combine impact with inspiration and together are a compelling case for continued and renewed investment in education.”
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