Department funds cut

Budgets drop four per cent due to insufficient government funding

All University departments are dealing with a four percent decrease in their base operating budgets for the 2007-08 school year. The money will be redistributed to cover increased costs.

“Effectively, what this is is a rationalization of the budget across the University so we can meet our ongoing costs,” said Vice-Principal (Operations and finance) Andrew Simpson.

Simpson said the money gained from each department will go primarily toward an increase in salaries, wages and benefits for University staff and faculty. Some of the money will be put into pension funds, but Simpson said the University chose to spread the increase in pension contributions over three years to ease the strain over the next few years.

“Every year these costs are going up.”

The University’s total operating revenue this year is $335.7 million—a $15.5 million increase from last year.

The largest portion of that goes toward salaries, wages and benefits, he said.

More than 50 per cent of the University’s operating budget comes from the government. The rest is made up mostly of tuition fees and investment income.

Simpson said insufficient government funding meant the University had to move funds out of each department to cover increases in the cost of salaries and benefits for faculty and staff.

Simpson said the changes aren’t ideal but will contribute to the ultimate growth and success of the University.

“Even this level [of reallocation] is higher than what anyone would like to see happen, but that’s the reality of making sure we’re in a fiscally responsible position.”

Each department on campus has lost four per cent of its original operating budget and is responsible for integrating the changes into their operations, Simpson said.

He said each will face specific challenges.

“Individual portfolios have to take the reallocations and make them work.”

Vice-Principal (Academic) Patrick Deane will consult with the dean of each faculty, who will in turn work with department heads to decide how to best absorb the changes.

The department of mechanical engineering was forced to cut six elective courses from its calendar this year, resulting in some students questioning whether they will be able to graduate on schedule.

Dean of Applied Science Kimberly Woodhouse was unavailable for comment.

Simpson said there’s usually a small budget reallocation every year but this one is bigger than it has been in recent years. Last year the University reallocated approximately two per cent of the budgets. The year before, no reallocation was required because of the added revenue of the money from the Ontario government’s Reaching Higher program from the government.

“This year was particularly problematic because really it’s higher than it had been in the past two to three years.”

2007-08 budget highlights

• $11.5 million increase (5.2 per cent) in funding for salary and benefits for faculty and staff

• $8.5 million allocation to faculties and departments to support graduate expansion, academic programs, faculty renewal, program quality enhancements, research support

• $1.5 million increase (4.4 per cent) for graduate and undergraduate student assistance

Source: 2007-08 Operating Budget for the Board of Trustees

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