Western releases budget proposals

School keeps accessibility commitment for qualified students

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

The numbers are in " and it looks as though Western is in for a rough few years financially.

The school’s proposed budget was released prior to Reading Week and it details Western’s contingency plan to get itself through the current recession.

With endowment losses, cuts to services, construction delays and employment reductions, the budget illustrates how serious Western’s financial losses really are.

“We are entering a situation in which our costs as a university are looking like they will grow at a faster rate than our revenues,” Fred Longstaffe, provost and vice-president academic at Western, explained.

“As a university, we will have to work even harder to ensure that we are utilizing our existing resources as wisely and carefully as possible and to keep front and centre our commitment to the quality of education that we offer to all of Western’s students.”

Despite the downturn, Western has promised to keep first year enrollment at 4,350 students and ensure students continue to receive the financial support they need.

“There has been understandable concern about student financial support " scholarships, awards and bursaries " that rely heavily on payouts from the endowments, many of which have been hit hard by the market downturn,” Longstaffe continued.

“The recommendations point out that Western remains committed to ensuring that no qualified student will be unable to attend or continue in program at Western for lack of access to adequate financial resources.”

Longstaffe added any shortfalls in the endowment-funded student awards will be made up by allocations from the university’s central budget.

The document also outlines the necessary budget cuts each faculty will need to make. On top of the yearly aim for a three per cent decrease, faculties will be required to cut an additional amount depending on the faculty.

Chris Sinal, undergraduate student representative on Western’s Board of Governors, said the average additional faculty budget cut is approximately 2.5 per cent and added the cuts were made across campus, including the President’s office.

“[BOG] has said we are going to have these cuts across the university and it recognizes that [deans] cannot fire tenured professors, so the cuts are going to have to come from somewhere else,” Sinal said.

Western is offering early retirement to tenured faculty to help alleviate some of the departmental costs and help retain as many jobs as possible.

“Overall, the net average faculty budget for 2009-10 will be about 0.9 per cent lower than in 2008-09, before negotiated salary increases are added to these budgets,” Longstaffe added.

“There will be very real reductions in available operating funds to the faculties and support units and our current projections suggest that similar action will be needed in 2010-11.”

Despite the difficulties and faculty cuts, Sinal said Western does not want faculties to sacrifice the quality of education in order to meet budgetary requirements.

“We want to make sure education quality is kept strong. We’re relying on the deans to walk the line between budget needs and class needs,” Sinal said.

Sinal added students should be aware of the cuts made in their faculties and be sure to express any concerns if needs are not being met.

As for the University Student Council’s budget plans, Jacqueline Cole, USC VP-university affairs, said council is being fiscally prudent when planning for next year.

“Any cuts that we make to our budget we’re making sure we’re still getting services to students and ensuring a positive student experience.”

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