The University of Manitoba is looking for ways in its May 22 budget to pay for some form of health coverage for 5,000 international students for one year.

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This article was published 28/3/2018 (1304 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The University of Manitoba is looking for ways in its May 22 budget to pay for some form of health coverage for 5,000 international students for one year.

"This explores options of the university addressing the costs in the budget" for the 2018-19 school year, executive director of public affairs John Danakas said Wednesday.

The Pallister government is saving $3.1 million a year by cutting universal health coverage in September for international students. Students who are not Canadians would need to pay about $400 a year, or $1,200 for a family, to buy private health insurance.

International students are very concerned, and the university wants to allay their fears for at least one year, said Danakas.

The U of M is looking at a permanent solution, he said, "working with other post-secondary institutions."

Providing health care coverage is putting even greater pressure on the university budget, after Finance Minister Cameron Friesen reduced operating grants 0.9 per cent in the provincial budget earlier this month.

The university announced Wednesday it has cut 12 non-academic management positions in service and support categories to get in line with Premier Brian Pallister's order that all public-sector employers chop 15 per cent of its administration and management.

"Management restructuring has been an ongoing process since at least the change in government,' said Danakas. "The university has worked with government in defining management positions."

All the jobs lost so far are in service and support, and some have been achieved through retirements.

The U of M is protecting academic positions for students' quality of education, he said.

Danakas said some academics who are in what might be considered management positions are still teaching and conducting research, and as tenured professors, have the right to return to full-time teaching and research if their administrative jobs are cut. There would be little savings for the university in such cases.

Academic vice-president Janice Ristock said on the university website Wednesday that tuition will increase in September by the maximum allowed under provincial legislation, 6.6 per cent, which is composed of five per cent plus 1.6 per cent as the estimated cost of living.

That tuition remains the lowest in Western Canada and among the lowest anywhere in Canada, said Ristock.

Ristock said a Canadian student with a maximum course load "will see tuition increase by $257 per year, from $3,897 to $4,154. That works out to approximately $26 more per three-credit-hour course. The projected increase in tuition for an international student in the faculty of science is approximately $992 per year, an increase from $15,036 to $16,028," she said.

University president David Barnard told the university community Wednesday the U of M will rely on its investments and contingency funds to balance the budget.

Barnard said the university expects tuition revenue to increase by about $9 million.

However, revenue will be down $7.3 million, including the grants reduction, an 11 per cent cut of $500,000 to access programs, and $3 million chopped from Research Manitoba.

In addition, salary and benefits costs are increasing $7 million, Barnard said. While faculty is under Bill 28's wage controls, they receive an 0.75 per cent increase this coming school year, and their increments are not affected by Bill 28. Other campus bargaining units have collective bargaining agreements that have not yet fallen under Bill 28.

nick.martin@freepress.mb.ca