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Universities give budget failing grade

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 25/3/2009 (4081 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

THE University of Winnipeg is asking its employees to help cover its shortfall after the provincial budget gave universities barely half the increase in operating grants they were seeking.

The University of Manitoba is still about $10 million short, said president David Barnard, who's looking for ways to cut spending.

But the big questions the post-secondary schools had Wednesday won't be answered until at least early April: What will former deputy education minister Benjamin Levin recommend that the Doer government do about tuition next fall, and will the government implement a specific tuition increase to produce additional revenue to the schools?

Wednesday's provincial budget gave the college and university system a six per cent overall operating increase -- but did not specify the individual increases to each school.

U of M had wanted 10.7 per cent, and U of W and Brandon University about 10 per cent apiece, to maintain jobs, programs and services.

"We're still short," said U of W vice-president of finance Bill Balan, who didn't want to talk specific numbers.

Balan said U of W faces an operating shortfall, as well as a shortfall because of market losses to its scholarship endowment finds, and because of a court decision on past pension payments.

Administrators have already taken a pay cut that amounts to about $250,000, Balan said.

U of M says it is not asking staff to make any concessions, but there is a committee studying possible changes to pension payments or contributions.

Red River College president Jeff Zabudsky said his school needed a five to seven per cent increase, but, "In today's context, we're quite comfortable."

Zabudsky said the government told Red River it will receive a four per cent increase in operating grants.

-- Nick Martin


Education: $609 million

What it buys: A six per cent overall increase in college and university operating grants and strategic initiatives, with details still to come on who gets what.

What it means: It's less than schools wanted, and leaves the question of how the province will deal with lifting the tuition freeze this fall.


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