‘Protection’ Money Needs To Be Indexed Say Profs

Created 2 March 2010 06:03

BC’s university professors warned today that rather than protecting funding for post-secondary education and research, the 2010 provincial budget masks cuts that will degrade the quality of education and undermine BC’s long-term competitive position.

“Freezing funding for universities over the next three years and for the foreseeable future is not protecting post-secondary education,” said Dr. Paul Bowles, President of the Confederation of University Faculty Associations of BC. “Costs are increasing each year, and these costs rise more quickly for universities than they do for the province in general.”

New technologies, software license agreements, and library acquisitions are amongst the goods and services whose prices tend to increase more quickly than the general Consumer Price Index (CPI). In its November report, the Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services recommended that the government look at establishing a Higher Education Price Index (HEPI) to recognize the unique cost pressures faced by the province’s post-secondary institutions.

“Although government grants to post-secondary institutions will not be cut over the next three years in terms of current dollars,” Bowles said, “this doesn’t save universities from having to reduce services each year as they seek ways to deal with their unique inflationary pressures. Funding that protected universities would recognize these pressures thus ensuring our faculty and students remain on the leading edge of their fields.”

The post-secondary funding freeze is a consequence of the provincial government’s plan to return to a balanced budget as soon as possible and commit future surpluses to paying down the debt. The lack of indexed funding for post-secondary education and research threatens the future quality of university education in the province and undermines the Minister of Finance’s plan to enhance BC’s competitive advantage.

“For too long, BC’s competitive advantage has focused on tax rates,” Bowles said. “It’s time for government to accept that adequately funded post-secondary institutions are just as vital to a prosperous future.”