Posts in "sfu community coalition"

advanced education should be bracing for impacts – and getting ready to say no to budget cuts

The following appeared on the Stop BC Library Cuts website today, after an communiqué from the provincial government:

On August 20, 2009 the Province of British Columbia announced that the provincial dollars to support public libraries would be $13,700,000, which is about 78% of previous years. While this represents a reduction, the libraries of BC are pleased to see that the provincial government recognizes the integral role public libraries play in community development and literacy.1

While I disagree with the ‘pleased sentiment’ (being happy with a cut in funding to important services isn’t the best approach, in my humble opinion), I think that what’s happening to the public libraries in the province should be making us in advanced education start to brace for impacts.

CBC reported today that the Finance Minister of the province is telling BC voters to get ready for a “very, very difficult budget.”  According to CBC,

“We are desperately trying to maintain the critical services in health care and education and the social services. So it’s definitely been a challenging summer,” the finance minister said Wednesday.

I would not be surprised to hear that provincial funding transfers to universities were to be impacted in much the same way that the libraries have been.  This will be an incredibly difficult budget for universities to cope with, especially since they’re already five months into a fiscal year.

In short, I think we should be bracing for the impact – and getting ready to say no.

envision education / get involved with the university community

“envision education”
A community-led visioning workshop – creating a new vision for our university

What is this event?
“envision education” is a community-led visioning workshop that brings together members of the university community to develop a plan for our university. Community resistance to cutbacks, budget reductions, layoffs, and program elimination is met with two general responses: “what would you rather us do?” and “there is no alternative.” A workshop that brings together the university community will enable us to develop an alternative, and propose ideas that we can work for at our university.
Think of your ideas that would answer these questions: what should our university be? What should education be? How do we get there?
The workshop will be led by organizers with the SFU Community Coalition, and is open to all members of the university community.

When and where?
The workshop will be held on Friday, May 15th from 11:30am to 1:30pm in room MBC 2290 at the SFU Burnaby campus.

Who can participate?
All members of the university community are welcome to participate – a broad range of participation allows us to develop a wide and encompassing idea of what we think our university should be.

How do I sign up?
If you would like to attend and participate in the visioning workshop, please confirm your attendance by contacting Kevin Harding by email at kharding@sfu.ca. Please include your name, email address, and which campus constituency you belong to (APSA, CUPE, SFUFA, TSSU, GSS, SFSS, Poly Party, or other) to help the organizers plan for numbers. Please register by May 14th.

What do I need to bring?
Mostly yourself – we hope to have representation from all the community constituencies so that we can bring together a wide vision of what the university should be. Bring your thoughts on what you think the university and education should be, and how we can get there.

The take-home message?
· “envision education”
· a community-led visioning workshop – creating a new vision for our university
· Friday, May 15th, 11:30am-1:30pm.
· Register by emailing your details to kharding@sfu.ca
· Think about these questions: what should our university be? What should education be? How do we get there?

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