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Budgets may get cut
By Dave Yasvinski
Most Western faculties will see a drop in their operating budgets next year if the recommendations made in a preliminary report to Senate are approved.
The report, presented to senators by VP-academic Greg Moran in the Senate's last meeting, calls for a 1.5 per cent reduction to the base budgets to almost all faculties except engineering science, education and masters of business administration. The high tuition programs of honours business administration, medicine and dentistry will see a reinvestment in their programs. The combined reduction to all faculties amounts to over $1.5 million.
The university is making a commitment to reinvest in areas of importance, Moran said. Because of the demand for the HBA program, an extra section will be added and $600,000 will be reinvested in the program next year.
The dentistry program will see a $200,000 reinvestment next year and $80,000 for each of the two years after. An annual allocation of $500,000 will be made to the capital budget each year for the next five years. Medicine will receive $684,000 next year and $500,000 per year for the following 10 years.
"We feel now is the time to invest in these programs," Moran said.
Even though there have been increases in tuition, costs are continually increasing and any revenue quickly disappears, Moran said. "This is solely due to gross government underfunding. Until the government ponies up with the funding students and the university need, we're in a desperate situation," he said.
Ontario universities receive the lowest government grants per capita in the country, Moran added.
However, Dave Ross, spokesperson for the Ministry of Education and Training, said a system cannot be judged on a per capita basis as the entire operating income must be looked at. "When you look at government grants, non-government grants and donations, Ontario universities are doing very well."
Yong Kang, dean of science, said his faculty will have to cope with the situation and tighten their belts. "I don't think it will affect the programs we offer but it may affect the faculty renewal programs."
Robert McMurtry, dean of the faculty of medicine and dentistry, said while the reinvestment his faculty will receive is badly needed, the department chairs would forego the money if it meant tuition levels would not rise again. "We're happy to see the support which is needed, which we hope we've earned, but we don't like to see the only basis for it is student tuition."