‘Difficult but necessary’: VIU cutting four programs in face of $20M deficit

‘Difficult but necessary’: VIU cutting four programs in face of $20M deficit
Nicholas Pescod

Vancouver Island University (VIU) is trimming four programs from its portfolio as it faces a deficit of $20.2 million.

The university plans to drop the following four programs, though students who are currently enrolled in them will be able to graduate with their certifications:

  • Advanced Diploma in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Applications
  • Integrated Engineering Technologist
  • Master in GIS Applications
  • Online Learning and Teaching Graduate Diploma

The university says one of the main reasons these four programs are being cut is because they have low enrolment.

The Integrated Engineering Technologist, for example, only has three students currently enrolled in its second year program.

Meanwhile, the GIS programs are forecast to run a deficit, says VIU.

The school adds that unlike its undergraduate programs, which receive some provincial funding, the graduate programs are required to recover the costs on their own.

At the same time, universities in B.C. are required to have balanced budgets by the provincial government.

“These are difficult but necessary decisions that reflect a move towards VIU’s financial sustainability and ability to continue to offer programs that meet the demand and interests of our students and the regional workforce,” said Michael Quinn, provost and vice president academic in a release Wednesday.

“We recognize these programs have supported many students in achieving their education and career goals and we acknowledge the passion and advocacy shown by our faculty and students in relation to the discontinuation of these programs,” he said.

Similar programs remain

VIU says that while the Integrated Engineering Technologist program is winding down, the university’s Engineering Transfer Diploma program will remain.

Similarly, while the Online Teaching and Learning Graduate Diploma has stopped accepting new students, the university will continue to offer graduate studies in Educational Leadership.

READ MORE: ‘A dream crusher’: VIU considers cuttings all music programs to balance its budget

VIU isn’t the only post-secondary institution to face budget cuts this year.

In February, the University of Victoria said it was slashing its budget by $13 million, and that it expected some staff to be laid off.

Both VIU and UVic have blamed a decline in enrollment over several years as a major factor in their budget cuts – with UVic specifically citing a drop in international students, made worse by the federal government’s announcement that it would be capping the number of new student visas for the next two years.

Vancouver Island University has campuses in Parksville, Nanaimo, Cowichan and Powell River. Besides a decline in enrollment, it says higher operating costs and inflation are factors in the program cuts.

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