Faculty Respond to BC Budget

Created 22 February 2017 09:02

Victoria, BC — BC Finance Minister Michael De Jong tabled the 2017/18 Budget in the legislature today. Like most pre-election budgets this budget is filled with a variety of spending announcements. Unfortunately, there were no substantive announcements for BC’s research universities.

“Today’s budget represents a lost opportunity for BC’s research universities” said Jim Johnson, President of CUFA BC. “The lack of new core funding in today’s budget will make it harder for BC’s research universities to compete nationally and internationally for faculty,” continued Johnson.

The announcements on post-secondary education were largely peripheral, with the exception of a vaguely worded commitment of $46 million in funding for post-secondary institutions as part of the government’s “enhanced technology sector.”

“This niche funding is typical of a government that simply does not understand our sector” said Johnson. “It rarely ends well for BC’s research universities when the government chooses which departments and areas of study to fund based on political priorities. Research and teaching priorities should be left to the collegial governance processes that distinguish universities. Instead of following fads, the government should restore the funding cuts from BC’s research universities in 2012 and 2014.”

BC’s research universities have suffered cuts of close to 5% over the past 5 years to core operating budgets. While funding to pay for recent wage settlements restores a portion of that cut, the Ministry of Advanced Education remains the only core Ministry to be cut during this government’s current mandate. BC research universities also face unique inflationary pressures and continue to struggle with costs well above inflation in areas such library acquisitions, student services, and the unfunded costs of research.

“It’s discouraging that at a time of record economic growth and unprecedented surpluses the government has chosen to ignore BC’s research universities” said Johnson. “It is clear that this government’s commitment to research excellence and teaching is a purely rhetorical commitment.”

For further information contact: Michael Conlon, Executive Director, 604-646-4677 (o), 778-994-2616 (c). The Confederation of University Faculty Associations of British Columbia represents over 5,400 professors, lecturers, instructors, and librarians at the five research intensive universities in British Columbia: University of British Columbia, University of Northern British Columbia, University of Victoria, Royal Roads University, and Simon Fraser University.