Posts in "on the agenda: board of governors"

death by a thousand cuts? / briefly analysing the sfu budget

envision education as it should beI promised (a while ago) to analyze the SFU budget that will be proposed tomorrow morning at the Board of GovernorsFinance Committee meeting.  You can grab a PDF copy of the budget (here) and page through it, if you’d like, and I’ll try to make references to page numbers as I make my analyses.

If you’re interested in seeing how the budget gets approved, stop by the Halpern Centre (between the AQ and the Library), room 126, on Thursdsay morning at 8am.  (yes, there is an 8am in the morning).

So, without much further ado, here’s the budget analysis:

  • Undergraduate tuition is increasing by 2% this year.1 This brings the standard per-credit hour cost of tuition to $157.30/credit for domestic undergrads, and up to $490.70 for international students.  Costs for upper-division computing science, engineering, and business courses are higher.  To break this down, it means that a 30-credit year now costs $4,719 excluding student fees, textbooks, transportation, parking, rent, etc.  For international students, the 30-credit year of tuition only now costs $14,721.
  • Grad tuition is also mostly increasing.2 Most of the non-premium tuition costs are increasing, while most of the premium programs are seeing a 0% change.  Oddly, the MBA in Global Asset and Wealth Management is decreasing by 7.7%3 — this may be the first decrease in any kind of tuition in years.
  • Student services and rec and athletics fees are increasing.4 Same as the tuition costs — up by 2.0%.  Which is kind of frustrating because layoffs and the like mean that student services will actually decrease despite the increase of fees.  Alarmingly, scholarship, awards, and bursary funds will also precipitously decrease — by hundreds of thousands of dollars, despite an old promise that as tuition increases, so too would financial aid.  Instead, SFU has made it more difficult to access financial aid and has cut the aid budget as tuition gets more expensive.5
  • A new fee — a “regalia fee” of $25.00 is being instated.6 When you actually graduate from SFU, you have the chance to walk across the stage and graduate from the university.  You get to wear a blue robe, blue hat, and a coloured ‘hood’.  We will now charge you $25 for this, and no, you can’t opt out of the program.
  • The university argues that impacts are “inevitable.”7 While the budget document states that impacts of budget cuts and underfunding are inevitable, they have tried to “preserve areas of academic and research strength.”8
  • Investment income has declined steeply.9 The budgeted decrease in investment income is $1.1 million, which also means endowment spending will decrease by $2.2 million.  This directly and immediately impacts student scholarships, awards, and bursaries.  Strongly.  And not in good ways.
  • Significant changes in the university are coming.10 The university notes that the budget planning for next year will proceed with an intensive review of the academic and strategic plan, which will identify “areas for resource reduction or elimination.”  This is huge — we’ve killed off Canadian Studies…what’s next? What impacts will this have on education?

There’s a lot more throughout the budget, but more important are the discussions that we’ve had, in the Senate and Board of Governors, that directly address the cuts being made and the strategic impacts that are being felt.

Again, this is a very brief analysis of the budget that is being proposed tomorrow.  I would greatly appreciate any comments, questions, or suggestions.  Feel free to suggest things to yell, if you so feel.

  1. Page 49 of the PDF, labelled as page 44 in the document.
  2. Page 50 of the PDF, 45 of the document
  3. Page 50/45
  4. Page 52/47
  5. No paper citation that I’m aware of — I have confidential documents that describe the amount, but the ‘discussion’ that we had on the decrease is not confidential.
  6. Page 53/48
  7. Page 9/4
  8. Page 9/4
  9. Page 9/4
  10. Page 13/8

proposed university budget now available

I’ve just received my copy of the university’s public budget document for SFU for 2009/2010.  This document sets out the $390 million budget and, in fairly broad strokes, what we plan on doing with it.

It’s important to note that the $390 million budget is an increase from last year of only $8 million — an increase of only 2.09% overall.  Nothing near matching our increased costs of operation, etc.

The link to the budget is here:  When I have more time (ie: not tonight, maybe tomorrow) I’ll try and do a bit of analysis, highlighting what I feel to be the main points of interest, concern, etc.

In the meantime, if you enjoy reading things like this, I encourage it — and please, post questions, comments, concerns here, so that I can keep them in mind and actually ask them myself.