UVic unions pen letter to province urging funding reform

UVic unions pen letter to province urging funding reform

A coalition of unions from the University of Victoria has penned a letter to the province urging immediate action to address budget cuts.

Six groups have written to Premier David Eby and the Minister of Post Secondary Education and Future Skills Lisa Beare, urging them to address budget cuts and layoffs at UVic.

CUPE 4163, CUPE 951, CUPE 917, The University of Victoria Faculty Association, the Professional Employees Association (PEA), and the University of Victoria Students’ Society co-wrote the letter.

The university announced in February that it was slashing operating budgets by four per cent, roughly equivalent to $13 million. Officials largely blamed a dip in international student enrollment as a cause.

“While our domestic and graduate enrollments are healthy, our international undergraduate enrolment is the lowest it has been in over 10 years, at 11 per cent of overall enrolment,” said the school in a February press release.

READ MORE: UVic slashes budget by $13M, blames lack of international students

UVic says along with layoffs, many departments will face four to six per cent budget cuts. In 2023, more than 90 per cent of the school’s operation budget was linked to student enrolment.

“These cuts have detrimental effects on our students and workers by reducing the number of classes that can be offered and reducing supports that help instructors be the best teachers they can be,” the letter said.

The groups say government funding currently only makes 41.1 per cent of post-secondary operating revenue, down from 70 per cent in the early 2000s.

The Confederation of University Faculty Associations of BC (CUPA), which is not included in the letter, says that number was 43.8 per cent back in 2020.

“This pattern of funding decreases has pushed Colleges and Universities in BC to become over-reliant on tuition fees, particularly from international students, to maintain their financial positions,” the letter says.

In response to the nation’s housing crisis, the federal government introduced a cap on international study permits through 2026.

The letter states with a declining enrolment of international students, schools are forced to slash budgets and lay off staff.

The groups are proposing five measures to alleviate operating revenue costs:

  • A funding review of B.C. post-secondary education to assess whether budgets devoted to senior administration make up a large proportion of the overall budget and if they require realignment.
  • Stabilize employment, provide emergency temporary transfers to other institutions, and access to government funding contingent on institutions maintaining current employment levels.
  • Allow post-secondary institutions can operate with budget deficits until the international student cap is lifted and ensure necessary funding is allocated for on-campus housing, accessible learning, and health and wellness services
  • Create better accountability for investment and funding allotment and ensure funding allocated towards workers goes towards the unionized workforce.
  • Alter the makeup of the Board of Governors within the University Act; ensuring better representation from the university community.

The full letter can be read online here.

Oli HerreraOli Herrera

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