BU poised to raise tuition, cut senior admin positions

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Brandon University will eliminate nine senior administration positions, and will likely hike tuition by 6.6 per cent, interim president Steve Robinson confirmed Thursday.

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This article was published 16/03/2018 (1617 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Brandon University will eliminate nine senior administration positions, and will likely hike tuition by 6.6 per cent, interim president Steve Robinson confirmed Thursday.

The significant changes come days after the Manitoba government announced it will reduce support to universities and colleges by 0.9 per cent. For BU, that equates to a reduction of approximately $340,000.

“We will be recommending to our board of governors that we increase our tuition by 6.6 per cent this year. That’s the … maximum amount of increase that the government has signalled they would allow universities to do,” Robinson said, adding it would mean an additional $25 per class. “So it’s modest … I realize that costs are costs and students taking a full load would face something like $250 per (year) … It’s not insignificant, but it’s not a huge increase in cost.”

A final 2018-19 budget will be presented to the BU board of governors for approval in May.

Robinson said it became clear to BU a few months ago that the government was going to extend the 15 per cent senior administration reduction to universities, following similar cuts to government departments and health authorities.

“We’ve been working since then to actually find a way to do this that caused the least amount of harm and that preserves front-line staff positions and faculty positions so that it can have a minimal impact on students,” he said.

Eliminated positions include all three associate vice-presidents (external/research/teaching and learning), as well as a university librarian and dean of graduate studies.

Two directors will be cut (information technology services and institutional data and analysis), as well as the associate director of Campus Manitoba and the facility manager of the Healthy Living Centre.

“It’s difficult because some people are losing positions, and leaving Brandon University. That’s always hard, but it’s also difficult because they’re doing valuable work here,” Robinson said.

Several positions will be downgraded or combined into new positions to find significant efficiencies, according to a BU press release.

Some of the eliminated positions were already held vacant. Others will be phased out over the coming year as their contracts expire or as they retire.

“Those eliminated positions, once they’re fully realized … it will make a difference of about $750,000 to our bottom line,” Robinson said.

“So that’s a significant saving, but that’s in the future. That won’t come to us right away because some of these people won’t be leaving for a little while still. We probably wouldn’t realize those savings for a couple of years.”

As some positions were part-time and combined with other roles, Robinson said it translates to approximately five people leaving the university.

In an email circulated to BU administration and obtained by The Brandon Sun, Robinson outlined the situation and expressed his regret to those losing their positions.

“Through vacancies, attrition, and the consolidation of positions, we are able to satisfy the government’s requirement with, I believe, as little harm as possible,” he stated.

“However, this is not painless. The cuts are real. These people and positions have made important contributions to BU; they are a part of the fabric of our community and are our friends. People will be leaving, or have already left, who would have preferred to stay longer. These absences will be deeply felt.”

According to BU, the responsibilities of the associate VP (research) and the dean of graduate studies will be combined into a new role of dean of graduate studies and research.

The responsibilities of the director of information technology services, the director of institutional data and analysis, and the university librarian will be combined into a new role of Chief Information Officer.

“As much as possible, we are insulating students from the direct impact of these unavoidable cuts,” said Meir Serfaty, BU’s acting vice-president (academic and provost), in a press release.

“We are committed to providing students with a quality education and all of the supports they need to succeed.”

» jaustin@brandonsun.com

» Twitter: @jillianaustin

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