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This article was published 2/2/2018 (1324 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Manitoba's university presidents suspect future provincial funding may depend on the ability to convince Premier Brian Pallister the schools can feed the local job market.
At least, that's what the group concluded at their latest meeting, Brandon University interim president Steven Robinson recently told his school's board of governors.
Robinson reported the Pallister government appears to be moving to a value-for-money university system, in which the Tories are emphasizing universities' ability to educate students to fill Manitoba jobs. "The province is transitioning to a focus on labour-market outcomes, such as the ability for (post-secondary) institutions to feed and drive the labour market for increased employment success and economic growth," with a provincial emphasis on value for money and fiscal responsibility.
The BU governors' minutes note Robinson "expressed the importance of ensuring that labour-market outcomes are considered in future funding requests to the province for programming."
Robinson also told the governors the Pallister government is "showing a high degree of interest in completion rates for students to start and finish university in a reasonable time."
Education Minister Ian Wishart last year ordered a review of the province's colleges -- expected to be tabled soon -- and Robinson said a similar review of Manitoba's universities is possible.
Wishart said by email Friday the university presidents are on the right track, but he's not yet ready to be specific.
"The province is looking at a broader strategy to ensure post-secondary education is better aligned with labour-market needs. Some findings of the college review may be applicable to other institutions, but while we appreciate institutions being proactive in anticipation, at this point, we are not ready to release our findings," said Wishart.
Robinson told the BU governors the province could also seek a "potential rebalancing" of university budgets from administration to front-line services.
The presidents believe they know where the Pallister government wants them to go, said Gabor Csepregi of the Winnipeg-based Université de Saint-Boniface.
"(USB) is committed to continued collaboration with the province and understands the priorities that have been put forward. As the province’s plan is developed through future exchanges, we expect that USB’s unique mission of promoting French language and culture will be an integral part of its strategy," he said.
Other Manitoba schools declined to comment or didn't respond.
Robinson has nothing further to say, a BU official said this week.
"We'll take a pass," said a University of Winnipeg official.
According to BU meeting minutes, Robinson said the presidents group recently met with the Business Council of Manitoba to develop a strategy for meeting the province's priorities.
"Both groups will continue to meet to establish labour-market outcomes and develop a PSE (post-secondary education) strategy for the province, with the hope of influencing the province’s strategy," Robinson told the board.
"We want to drive the economy, grow the economy -- we've got a need for more talent, continually," said Don Leitch, president and chief executive officer of the Business Council of Manitoba. "How do we apply sufficient resources from the province to meet everyone's needs?"
Last week, Wishart said the Tory government has made it clear universities and colleges administrative costs are to be reduced, even though universities said they have not received a directive from the Pallister government. Government, Crown corporations, and health-care systems were ordered last year to cut 15 per cent of their administration jobs.
Red River College said it has chopped 10 of its top 67 management jobs, after unnamed provincial officials told RRC it is provincial policy.
Robinson had also reported to the BU board of governors late last year the university presidents are strategizing how they can provide proof to Pallister that the premier is achieving his promise of making Manitoba the most improved province in Canada -- but none of the presidents would provide elaboration or agree to an interview.