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 May 21, 1999 Volume 6, Number 17

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The next issue of On Campus News will be published
Friday, September 3.

The latest issue (May 21, 1999) is provided below.


Millennium Fund money saves day for tuition fees, U of S operating budget

Following rumors that tuition costs at the U of S might be rising by as much as 20% to make up a shortfall in government funding, it was announced last week that the increase will be held to 1.9% and that the University's operating budget for 1999-2000 will see expenditures increase by $7.3 million, to a total of $188 million.

These happy developments - announced at last week's Board of Governors meeting - stem from a $9-million allocation of funding to the provincial government (announced on May 7) from the federal government's 10-year, $2.5-billion Millennium Scholarship Fund, first publicized in the fall of 1997.

The $9 million was designated for tuition relief - based almost entirely on financial need rather than scholarship - thus displacing $8.9 million the government had set aside for student loans. The $5 million one-time allocation to the University's operating budget comes from that displacement.

Talk of double-digit increases in student tuition began when the government announced in its recent budget that it was increasing the University's operating grant by only $1.4 million.

The University contended that that amount was insufficient to meet the established provincial pattern for salary settlements; projected increases in utilities; critical investment in an employee recruitment program; faculty start-up grants; graduate student support; and information systems development.

But when B of G chairman Hal Wyatt spoke to the media last week, he declared that he and the University "are very happy" that the enhanced funding will cover these "renewal" items for the University.

Asked if the 10-year Millennium Scholarship Fund means that tuition increases will be kept low during that time, Wyatt said he didn't know.

"There will be [such] funds available to us, but I don't think anyone can specify what they'll be. But we think they'll moderate the need for tuition increases."

Post-Secondary minister Maynard Sonntag noted that the criteria set out by the Millennium Foundation specify that the money must directly benefit students.

"So each year we'll be working with the Universities to direct the funds to the students...[and] we'll want to work with the Universities to determine how best to do that. The model we've set out this year isn't necessarily the exact way it'll be done next year...but my guess is that in the future it will be dedicated to tuition again, and roughly the same amount of money."

The 1.9% tuition increase means that tuition levels at the U of S will be far lower than all other major western universities, except for those in British Columbia where the provincial government has frozen tuition fees.

Board member and new USSU president Sean Junor said that any tuition increase for students isn't good. "But given the circumstances we're under and given some of the numbers that have been floated about, [the 1.9% increase] is welcome news."

Meanwhile, the operating budget focuses on maintaining high quality programs for students, through such measures as:

  • the allocation of almost $4.3 million to scholarships and graduate teaching fellowships, $3.9 million of which is earmarked for graduate scholarships and teaching scholarships. The remainder goes toward funding undergraduate scholarships.

  • maintaining the $1.05 million allocation toward student recruitment and retention. This sum includes $675,000 for bursaries and $75,000 for graduate service fellowships.

  • an increase of 5% for Library acquisitions. This increase will not completely offset the anticipated 9.6% inflation rate for library acquisitions next year, which means that fewer materials will be purchased.

  • earmarking $200,000 for learning technologies. This will provide staffing support necessary to use the new equipment in lecture theatres and classrooms.

  • an increase of 1% for all non-salary expenses. This item has not been increased since 1991-92. At this point, some Colleges' faculty members are no longer supplied with pens or paper.

  • $700,000 to recruit the best faculty for the next generation. In a period when the University is attempting to recruit a significant number of junior faculty, as are many other universities across Canada, our lack of competitiveness would be a major problem.

  • $500,000 for start-up grants for new faculty. The full amount is not an ongoing commitment, but it will be continued for a three-year period, during which the majority of new faculty will be hired.

  • $1 million for information systems development.

NOTE: See related story: 1999-00 capital budget earmarked for repairs, construction, equipment, research bases, and more

Senior U of S officials, Board of Governors representatives, and Maynard Sonntag, minister of Post-Secondary Education, were happy last week to deliver the good news that a double-digit tuition increase would not be necessary, thanks to a $9-million allocation of money to the government from the Millennium Foundation. L. to r.: Vice-president Tony Whitworth; USSU president Sean Junor; B of G chairman Hal Wyatt; President Ivany; Post-Secondary minister Maynard Sonntag; and President-elect Peter MacKinnon.

As usual, the Board of Governors had a heavy agenda to deal with last week, what with 11th-hour tuition negotiations that took place with the government, recommendations it received concerning the contentious Pension Plan, further deliberations concerning the synchrotron, a land use report, and a host of other weighty issues. Pictured above are (standing): Iain MacLean, University secretary; President George Ivany; HermanRolfes, Bernie Goplen, Dallas Howe, President-elect Peter MacKinnon. (Sitting): Frank Quennell, Sean Junor, Marcel de la Gorgendière; Hal Wyatt (chairman), Chancellor Peggy McKercher, Sylvia Fedoruk, and Bob Hickie. Board member not present for photograph: Chief Harry Lafond.

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