Created 18 February 2015 13:02
VICTORIA – Despite a surplus of close to $1 billion in fiscal year 2014/15, the 2015/16 provincial budget contains no new funding or policy initiatives for British Columbia’s research universities, according to CUFA BC, the provincial voice of over 5,500 professors, librarians, instructors, lecturers and other academic staff at BC’s five public research universities.
“This budget ensures that BC will continue to fall farther behind when it comes to funding research and teaching,” said Doug Baer, President of the Confederation of University Faculty Associations of BC (CUFA BC).
“When inflationary pressures and the recent cuts to university budgets are accounted for there has been a cumulative cut of over 15% to core operating budgets over the past 12 years,” Baer added. “The reality is that these cuts affect the basic operations of teaching and learning, and the research capacity at our institutions. It is an illusion to believe that this funding trend can continue without affecting the core mandate of public post-secondary education in British Columbia.”
In its submission to the Select Standing Committee on Finance, CUFA BC made the case for the establishment of a provincially funded program of graduate scholarships. BC is one of the few provinces in the country that does not have scholarships for graduate students. CUFA BC also set out the case for core funding that kept pace with inflation as opposed to the recent set of rolling funding cuts for BC’s research universities.
“BC needs to take a leadership role in recruiting and retaining excellent faculty and graduate students. Instead we are seeing de facto cuts to core funding and no policy initiatives whatsoever to promote and develop research excellence at BC’s universities,” said Baer.
Despite a healthy surplus there is no new funding for student financial assistance, research, or infrastructure in this budget. The capital spending for post-secondary institutions referenced in the budget documents is not new funding but rather a renouncement of previous commitments. BC continues to also have the highest interest rates on student loans of any jurisdiction in Canada.
Though the budget contained no new funding for post-secondary education, the Minister of Finance announced the elimination of the surtax on British Columbians earning over $150,000 per year. The elimination of this tax will cost the government in excess of $200 million per year.
“This budget largely focuses on the wrong priorities, while ignoring BC’s research universities. In an economic climate in which post-secondary education is increasingly important, the elimination of a tax for the richest British Columbians is simply the wrong choice,” concluded Baer.
For further information or comment please contact CUFA BC President Doug Baer @ 250-418-5240 or CUFA BC Executive Director Michael Conlon @ 778-994-2616.