Faculties propose cuts in response to provincial challenge

Devan C. Tasa, News Editor Ω

TRU’s various faculties and schools are beginning to respond to a provincial government challenge to reduce their budgets.

In the 2012 budget announcement in March, the government announced cuts of $70 million to post-secondary education over the next three years, a 2.2 per cent decrease.

Kevin Falcon, the finance minister at the time, challenged universities to reduce behind the scenes administrative costs in his budget speech on Feb. 21.

“The province will work with universities, colleges and other institutions to help ensure that front-line programs are not affected,” he said. “We believe a one per cent cost reduction is very achievable.”

A letter signed by 25 post-secondary presidents, including TRU’s Alan Shaver, said students could be affected.

“We must be clear that it is unrealistic to assume that the reductions contemplated by Budget 2012 can be achieved without implications for service levels,” stated the letter.

In order to meet the government’s challenge, the senate’s budget committee has instructed TRU’s faculties, departments and schools to present possible savings that would result in a two per cent cut in their budgets for the 2012-13 year.

From the senate agenda posted online, seven faculties have presented proposals.

All of the proposals would affect staffing.

Many of the faculties will not be replacing faculty members that have left with new hires. For the faculty of arts, that’s three positions; the school of business and economics, 1.5 positions; and the faculty of adventure, culinary arts and tourism, one position.

Other faculties propose replacing retiring faculty members with sessional instructors and using less sessional instructors than before.

Another common proposal is to reduce travel, equipment and printing expenses incurred by the faculty’s staff. For instance, the school of nursing is looking at exiting an organization of nursing schools to save on membership fees and travel costs.

The school of trades is looking at having students pay for materials that were previously paid by the university, which would save it $40,000. It’s also looking at cutting programs with low enrollments, such as the glazier, partsperson, motorcycle and power sports tech and joinery programs.

All together, the seven faculties hope to save $858,584 in the 2012-13 budget year.

According to the proposal submitted by the school of trades, faculties will be expected to find a further 1.5 per cent savings in 2013-14 and 1.6 per cent in 2014-15.

A breakdown of the proposed cuts by various TRU faculties in response to a provincial challenge to lower budgets. – Image by Devan C. Tasa