Schools trim costs

Law, Engineering, Business and Medicine handle cuts

David Walker
Image by: Tyler Ball
David Walker

When it comes to budget cuts, it’s clear that no two faculties are dealing with the strain in the same way.

The University is entering its second year of a three-year plan to cut 15 per cent of faculty and administrative budgets. The decision was announced last November in an e-mail sent by Principal Tom Williams to staff and faculty members in all departments. Dean of Law William Flanagan said a raise in tuition has helped his faculty’s budget remain balanced.

“The key thing for the Law school is provincial tuition policy permits us to raise tuition by eight per cent for incoming students and four per cent for those in the program,” he said. “Under the tuition sharing arrangement with the University we get a certain portion of that income. We will have to direct all of that income toward the cut so that is the major way we will address most of the cut.”

Flanagan said the biggest difficulty his faculty has faced is replacing outgoing faculty members.

“We currently have 31 faculty members and we’ll try to maintain that number, but over the next three years that number might slightly decline if it turns out we’re unable to replace outgoing faculty,” he said, adding that the school hired one new faculty member last year to replace a professor who will soon be departing.

Flanagan said he thinks the law school is in a better position than most faculties in terms of its financial situation.

“We’re fortunate at the law school. We’ve been able to maintain a very high quality program,” he said. “The great disadvantage is that we had hoped to expand out faculty numbers by sharing in some of the tuition revenue but that will not be possible.” Dean of Applied Science Kimberly Woodhouse said her faculty aims to compensate for the budget cuts through tuition increase.

“The Faculty has, as stated in the Senate documents on tuition, increased the tuition by eight per cent in the first year and four per cent in upper years,” she said.  Woodhouse said her faculty also aims to increase enrolment over the next few years.

“We have also taken a planned enrolment increase this year, which will position the Faculty to have 2,600 students in total by 2012,” she said.

Dean of Business David Saunders said two cost-cutting committees have helped his faculty’s budget remain balanced.

“The main one was around materials and supplies and how we manage those,” he said. “For the second one all of us looked at cost cutting, but I also then asked every director how can we trim costs.” Saunders said the financial situation for his faculty has also been helped by an increase in enrolment for the MBA program, which tends to occur when the economy is suffering.

“We also took in the most MBA students we’ve had in a decade,” he said, adding that there are 111 MBA students this year compared to 73 last year. “The MBA [students] are counter-cyclical to the economy. It’s just a condition of the market.” Saunders said that like other faculties, his faculty has increased tuition by eight per cent for incoming students and four per cent for existing students. He said he thinks students recognize that tuition increase is crucial to maintaining quality education.

“I’d like to point out the commerce students’ support of tuition increase,” he said. “They understand it’s a direct line to quality and a direct line to the reputation of the school, which in turn leads to better jobs.”

Dean of Health Sciences David Walker said medical school fees at Queen’s are currently on average for Ontario, but tuition may be increased in the future to meet budgetary needs. He said his faculty has yet to experience the full fallout of the cuts.

“We still have a balanced budget but that’s because we’re using some cash we have to balance it in the first year or two,” he said, adding that no staff or faculty have been laid off. “The majority of our faculty are physicians, who are not paid by Queen’s. Most of the funding for our clinical faculty comes from the Ministry of Health, so much of the medical school is helped in that way.”

The faculty of Health Sciences is made up of the School of Medicine, the School of Nursing and the School of Rehabilitation Therapy.

He said the departments will be affected by the budget cuts disproportionately because of the lack of clinical faculty in the basic science departments.

“All basic science departments they are affected as well, but to a much greater extent because the faculty members are paid by Queen’s,” he said, adding that the structure of the basic science courses, including labs, might have to be re-evaluated.

Walker said the new medical school building was necessary to accommodate his faculty’s needs and encourage a growth in enrolment numbers.

“The new medical school building is essential for us to be able to provide the MD program—the external accrediting organization stated that our facilities were not adequate.  The facility will also allow us to grow enrolment and thus revenue in the future,” he said. “The building cost is $77 million of which we have now raised all but $6 million—fundraising is in high gear and we project achieving the target by 2011.”

Walker said he thinks the budget concerns are going to get worse, not only for the University but for the whole country.

“I think the next 10 years are going to be tougher than the last,” he said. “I think all government services are going to be under tremendous scrutiny and so I think this is just the beginning. It’s definitely not the end.”

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