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U of M to chop $5M out of $642-M budget

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THE University of Manitoba is bracing for almost $5 million in cuts.

The board of governors will consider a draft budget Tuesday calling for the university to chop $4.98 million from its 2013-2014 budget after the Selinger government reneged on its funding commitment in last month's provincial budget. The university's total draft budget for 2013-14 is $642 million.

While the province had promised a five per cent increase in operating grants for the third year of a three-year commitment, it instead will increase grants by 2.5 per cent.

U of M president David Barnard previously acknowledged Manitoba is better than some provinces, such as Alberta, whose government also reneged on a funding promise and opted for deep cuts to post-secondary funding.

More than $3.9 million, or 1.56 per cent, will be cut from academic faculties, departments, schools, libraries and colleges.

The rest of the money will come from Barnard's office and the budgets of other senior administrators. Barnard's budget faces the highest cut at 3.3 per cent.

The cuts will be spread across campus, with the largest faculties suffering the highest cuts -- $750,000 to arts and $516,000 to science.

But library acquisitions could be chopped by $350,000, as will extended education, tied for the third-highest cuts.

However, all U of M access programs in engineering, extended education, nursing and social work will not be touched.

U of M communications director John Danakas said Friday department heads had already identified months ago where cuts of three to five per cent could be made if needed. That's an annual pre-budget exercise.

The potential cuts are not equal across the board, Danakas said.

"The annual exercise is one that positions each unit such that should cuts be required, they have pre-identified where they could take place," he said.

Danakas said U of M releases its draft budget ahead of time in the interests of transparency, but Barnard will not talk about details of its elements until the governors have voted. It was not known Friday how much the cuts would affect jobs, programs or services in individual areas.

The report to the board of governors said U of M was confident the university could maintain status-quo spending until the government reduced its grant promise.

The NDP maintained tuition increases, as promised, at the rate of inflation -- 1.6 per cent.

Thanks to increased enrolment forecast for the fall, tuition will provide more money in 2013-14; revenue has also been boosted in other areas, such as rentals to private operations on campus.

It is not clear from the report what salary levels U of M is building into the projections -- professors have been without a contract since March 31.

U of M Faculty Association president Prof. Sharon Alward said Friday the union is not ready to comment on the budget's implications.

U of M is boosting funding within the budget for student services, improvements in indigenous education, research -- particularly in human rights -- and contingency funding for a possible Truth and Reconciliation national research centre.

The University of Winnipeg will set its budget in June and Brandon University is close to setting its budget.

nick.martin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 21, 2013 A4

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Updated on Tuesday, May 21, 2013 at 9:55 AM CDT: removes deck

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