Clarifications, RE: Taking Action on the Proposed KPU Budget


Thank you to all for the support and positive responses we have received to our messaging around the proposed FY 2019/2020 University budget. Thank you to those who showed up at the Music student rally yesterday, and thank you to those who are planning to attend the meeting of Senate today and Board on Wednesday.

Your colleagues who are facing layoffs also will thank you for your support, we’re sure.

We hope that everyone able to do so will continue to speak out and show up.

There have been a few questions, and further to our earlier messages, we want to address and clarify

  • the budget figures we have published, and
  • the application of University policy and practice around pending program intake suspensions

Budget Figures

The University proposed budget for FY 2019/2020 is the direct source of all the figures we have used. We worked with an external data analyst to understand the budget figures and present a nuanced analysis in our previous emails.

In this budget, fiscal restraint seems to apply only to faculty, and only to higher-cost programs.

The bottom line is that any way we look at it, the only employee group taking a hit in this proposed budget is faculty. And almost all the programs being hit are programs that have higher costs due to such factors as lower class sizes. Most of them do not have low enrollments – most of the programs slated for suspensions have been consistently full or nearly full, but they have lower class sizes due to program and educational demands, and have higher associated costs due to other program features. The Farrier program has been consistently full. The Health Unit Coordinator program has been consistently full. The Fashion program first-year intakes have been consistently full. The Music programs have been consistently full.

Regarding administrative salary, we invite you to look for yourself at the consolidated summary by account type. That summary shows the Fiscal Year 2017/18 actual expenditures for administrative salary as $14,580, 908. It also shows the budget for administrative salary in this proposed budget as $20, 561,100.

This is a 38% increase in proposed administrative salary over this period. It’s fairly simple math. We fail to understand how anyone could claim these figures are false, or that any of the figures we have previously published are false. They come from the University’s own budget documents.

If there is such latitude to increase administrative salary, within a net 9% growth budget, then why the immediate urgency to trim programs and lay off faculty?

Different choices can and should be made.

Every university that exists or has ever existed includes programs that are more costly or less costly to deliver, that have higher or lower demand over time. How is it that our current senior administration seems unable to balance these factors across the institution? How is it that we have gone from a $14M surplus last year, to a position of fiscal urgency this year? If there is such urgency around budget, why was it not known and acted upon before this juncture?

University Policy and Practice

Regarding the application of University policy and practice around program changes, we would like to clarify some misconceptions.

University Policy AC10 explicitly states, “In instances where enrolment is insufficient to make a program viable, a Dean in consultation with the Provost, would have the discretion to administer the cancellation of an intake.”

We have seen a number of recent examples of programs that had intakes suspended and that were subsequently discontinued without further consultation through the process, as a direct result of having those intakes suspended. In other words, intake suspensions were the means for achieving program discontinuance. Not consultation. Not program review. Not a fulsome consultation process. For example, Public Safety Communications and Career Choices and Life Success are two programs that are now gone from this institution, and the means for their discontinuance was through intake suspension.

And now we are seeing impending intake suspensions across a number of programs in our institution, without consultation. The Farrier program has been consistently full. The Health Unit Coordinator program has been consistently full. The Fashion program first-year intakes have been consistently full. The Music programs have been consistently full. Yet they are now “unviable”?

We would argue these current actions on the part of administrators proposing to suspend program intakes are in direct violation of the policy principles. The policy principles explicitly state that major changes to programs, including proposals for program suspension or elimination, must be developed through open consultation processes.

Furthermore, we would argue that if we leave the concept of “viability” entirely to the interpretation of the administrator responsible, then we are

  1. Violating the principle of accountability (there is no need to be accountable; the administrators can interpret “viability” however they choose),
  2. Violating the principle of consultation (faculty in the programs are completely excluded from the process), and
  3. Violating the principle of reasonability (the administrators can redefine what constitutes “viability” at will and without reference to established practice for running the program in question).

Administrators do not have unfettered powers to suspend intakes of whatever programs they choose to reinterpret as “unviable” in whatever ways they choose.

We hope this clarifies.

And we hope you will continue to speak, to ask for clarification, and to ask that this budget be sent back for revision, not approved through the Board.