Students will see almost double the money after the $1.1-million Comprehensive University Enhancement Fund (CUEF) restructures at the beginning of April.
Under the new plan, funds will be divided into thirds, with one-third going to the university senate budgeting committee, one-third going to the undergraduate research (UREAP) program, and one-third managed by TRUSU to fund student events and initiatives (such as lectures or conferences). Of the third given to TRUSU, $15,000 will go to the Williams Lake campus student union.
Students pay $5.61 per credit into CUEF, one-quarter of non-tuition TRU fees, not counting lab fees or those administered through TRUSU.
Harder for “harder” money
The change comes after a presentation made by TRUSU to the senate budget committee last March. The union argued that CUEF lacked transparency, encouraged reliance on “soft” money outside of TRU’s budget and did not adequately fund actual student initiatives.
According to TRUSU president Dylan Robinson, the new plan increases transparency, since students will have more control through the union and student representatives on the senate research committee.
“By targeting the vast majority of CUEF funds to direct student initiatives and having the administration of that fund managed by students, it will really kind of clear up that vagueness that was present in previous iterations of the Comprehensive University Enhancement Fund and ensure that the fees and the monies that students are paying into the fund are actually used to directly benefit student activities on campus,” Robinson said.
In an email to The Omega, TRU VP of finance Matt Milovick added that set divisions would add consistency in how the fund is allocated, making it less “soft.”
Created in 2005, CUEF was originally meant to help the then University College of the Cariboo transition into a university by expanding available programs and student opportunities.
The current CUEF steering committee includes two TRU administrators appointed by the budget committee, two faculty members nominated by TRUFA and four students appointed by TRUSU. Faculty members must be approved by the budget committee.
Stirring the pot
With about $737,000 set to become directly available to students, CUEF funds for strategic investment will drop significantly.
“Reallocations always create an impact,” Milovick said of the issue. “At this time, it’s too early to say who or what areas may not receive a CUEF allocation and where or if the university’s budget can support an allocation to those areas.”
TRUSU’s allocation of CUEF funds will be managed alongside its current student grants through an application process similar to what is already in place.
Robinson added that no new TRUSU positions will be created to handle the influx of money.
“The students’ union already administers a lot of granting requests for clubs and campus groups, and I don’t anticipate much will change in that process with the management of the CUEF portion of the fund,” he said.
Students looking for CUEF funds after the end of March should apply through the student union.
Artwork by Shelby Purcha