Malaspina 1998/99 operating grant up, but total operating budget short $1-million

April 26, 1998 - 5:00pm

Malaspina University-College has received a $31,564,389 operating grant from the Ministry of Advanced Education, Training and Technology for the 1998/99 fiscal yeara $499,338 increase over last year's grant.

The operating grant from the Ministry makes up 59% of Malaspina's total $53-million budget, which is projected to be short $1-million compared to last year's expenditures.

While the operating grant is up, Malaspina will be experiencing some growth in new programs and cuts in some established programs an courses.

The 1998/99 funding from the Ministry provides $688,139 for 100 new student spaces; $57,830 for equipment for new programs; $39,257 additional funding for services to students with disabilities; $31,555 to compensate for lost revenues as a result of the government's tuition fee freeze; $20,000 for prior learning assessment; as well as a "non-formula grant" of $36,031.

At the same time, Malaspina will be receiving $38,427 less for "sponsored student tuition," while temporary funding for development of the university-college concept, amounting to $275,525 in '97/98 was eliminated.

The Ministry has created a new "Learning Opportunities Envelope" of $486,897 which replaces last year's three envelopes for "learning partnerships," learning highway" and "alternative delivery" which totaled $546,419 in '97/98.

"We're pleased with the government's commitment to post-secondary educationand especially to studentsby providing additional spaces and boosting financial assistance for students in the 1998/99 provincial budget," said Malaspina University-College president Rich Johnston. "We know that the provincial government has been under a lot of pressure since the federal government cut transfer payments to the provinces, and we commend the provincial government for not passing along these cuts to education," he said.

Edwin Deas, Malaspina's vice-president of administration and bursar said that the Ministry funding is approximately what was anticipated.

"It's good news in that we don't have to re-open our planning process."

Malaspina administrators have been involved in a budget planning process since last October.

"Early preparation of assumptions for the 1998/99 budget allowed for a thoughtful and orderly budget planning process, and in December 1997 we projected a potential shortfall between $1.2 and $1.6 million for the 1998/99 fiscal year and have been planning strategies to deal with it," Deas said.

The projected shortfall which according to Deas "now seems likely to just exceed $1-million," is the result of increased costs for janitorial services as a result of new buildings built in the last few years; increases in employer contributions to Canada Pension Plan (CPP); lack of funding for faculty and staff collective agreements which were negotiated by the provincial government, last year; as well as costs associated with a gender-neutral job evaluation for administrators, required by the provincial government through the Post-Secondary Employers Council (PSEC).

Deas said the government's tuition fee freeze, while good for students, has also impacted Malaspina's budget.

"Before the tuition fee freeze was introduced three years ago, the Ministry had allowed us to raise student tuition fees by 9%; this would have meant a potential revenue of $500,000 for us. This year, for the first time, we've received $31,555 to compensate for the loss of potential revenues from student tuition fees," he said.

Funding for the 100 new student spaces will allow Malaspina to offer the following additional courses/programs:

  • third year Computing Science coursesstudents will complete their fourth year at the University of Victoria;

  • third year courses of a new Bachelor of Tourism Management degree;

  • additional Bachelor of Arts courses;

  • additional Bachelor of Science courses;

  • 1-year Cook Training Certificate programs in association with the local school districts at the Powell River and Cowichan campuses (previously the programs were offered on temporary funding);

  • first year courses of a new 2-year Diploma in Information Technology and Applied Systems.

  • second year courses with First Nations content.

The operating grant from the Ministry makes up 59% of Malaspina's total $53-million budget. Revenues from student tuition and lab fees make up 13%; gross revenues from international education and contract training contribute 19%; cafeteria and bookstore operations raise 6%; revenues from programs and services such as the hairdressing salon, trades program shops, rental of facilities and application fees make up 3%.

Unlike school districts, the B.C. College and Institute Act prohibits post-secondary institutions from planning for an operating budget deficit; instead, cuts have to be made, or revenues have to be increased to meet budget expenditures.

Glenn Johnston, vice-president of instruction, said that instructional deans and coordinators have been examining all programs and courses to determine student demand, quality, cost efficiency and effectiveness.

"We've examined all programs to determine how we can maintain quality while continuing to meet our mission and goals," said Johnston.

"While there will be some new courses and programs as a result of the 100 new student spaces, there will likely be reductions in other courses, next year," Johnston said.

"In the coming weeks we'll be examining the broad picture and looking at the effects of potential cuts on students. We'll be working closely with our Education Council and our unions, and we're exploring a number of options, including early retirements, as a way to avoid potential lay-offs," Johnston said.

Budgets for individual departments will not be known for some weeks until the "line-by-line" assembly of the total budget has been completed.

The final 1998/99 operating budget is expected to be ready for approval by the Malaspina Board at their May 28 meeting.

Malaspina's new fiscal year started April 1, 1998.

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