KFA Update on Proposed University Budget
To all KFA Members,
We are updating you and providing further information regarding the 2019/2020 proposed University budget. Your KFA is deeply opposed to the choices the Employer has made in creating this proposal, and we believe it is incumbent upon us and our membership to do all we can to correct the course of action taken so far.
We want to emphasize that this is a proposed budget, as it has yet to be approved by the Board. As such, it reflects the beliefs and priorities of those proposing it, and we hope that other people—those with the power to approve or deny approval—may have different priorities and beliefs.
Implications of the Proposed Budget
The Employer claims that in order to provide the balanced budget required by the provincial government, they need to find approximately $3.4M dollars in cost reductions. To achieve this goal, the Employer has made deliberate choices between program spending and administrative spending, and it appears that the bulk of the cuts are programming cuts. In plain terms, budgetary savings are being made on the backs of faculty through reducing the number and variety of courses and credentials we offer students, and the resulting faculty layoffs.
The Employer is prioritizing administrative over program spending, and they are also prioritizing programming that is more financially lucrative versus less lucrative for the institution. They are doing this while falling back on the narrative–not necessarily fact-based—that the less lucrative programming has low enrolments. However, they appear to be targeting class size as opposed to utilization rates. Class sizes cannot all be the same, and class size limits are bargained into our Collective Agreement and approved through University governance. We believe utilization rates are a more effective way to discuss enrollment, yet in many instances, utilization rates appear not to be the means for determining what counts as “low enrollment.”
In short, there is a substantial difference between what the Employer is claiming as justification for cuts versus what appear to us to be the real reasons. Almost all of the program areas being cut, suspended, or reduced have similar kinds of specific curricular, student, and delivery needs that render the programs more costly to run.
Failure to Adhere to University Policy and the University Act
Furthermore, it appears that most of these proposed cuts are being made outside University policy processes, in particular Policy and Procedures AC10 and the University Act. Several programs have had their intakes suspended indefinitely and/or been ordered to change their program curricula. Information sessions have been cancelled, and current and prospective students have been advised that intakes in the foreseeable future will not occur. Such drastic actions cannot but severely impact the continued existence of these programs, yet the Employer has taken these actions without following the processes outlined in AC10, without regard to the powers and duties of Faculties as described in the University Act, and without regard to standard curriculum development and revision processes, or established institutional program review processes.
Increases in Administrative Spending
According to the figures available in the proposed budget, total cuts to faculty salary (not including benefits) within the Faculties is $1 339 500. Taking into account some increases in specific programming areas, and in the Teaching & Learning service area, the total net overall cut to faculty salary in the proposed budget is $743 800.
At the same time, there are increases in administrators’ salaries amounting to $1 000 000. When we take into account a number of reductions, the net increase to total administrative salary is $729 600.
(Note: These figures do not include substantial changes in “Central” as we are following up to determine the exact nature of this area, located outside of the academic Faculties.)
|IT & Facilities||37,200||0|
|Net Salary Additions/Cuts||729,600||-743,800|
Salary Variance FY19/20 Proposed Budget vs FY18/19 Budget & BARs, excluding Central
Another way to look at the proposed changes is by percentage increase or decrease. Changes in administrative versus faculty salary in academic and select other units are revealing:
|Office of the President||2%||0%|
Proposed % Salary Change of Select Divisions
In addition, there are significant increases in several administrative offices and units. These include:
- A new administrative unit, “Campus Planning,” budgeted at $1 900 000
- Increase in “Risk Management” of $218 400
- Combined increases in the offices of the President, VP Academic, and Teaching and Learning totaling $589 810
These increases alone total $2 709 200. Together, they would more than offset the proposed cuts to faculty. These increases significantly undermine the narrative of fiscal responsibility being invoked to justify program cuts and faculty layoffs. In other words, this doesn’t seem like an austerity spending approach, at least not in these administrative areas.
We do not agree with or accept the priorities illustrated in this proposed budget. We do not agree with or endorse the lack of adherence to University policy, and the lack of proper consultation in determining programming changes. And there are concrete positive actions we can and will take to oppose this proposed budget and to protect our members from its negative effects.
Support for the Affected Faculty
First, we are providing immediate and active support to the faculty directly affected by the proposed cuts. Some of the things we’re doing include attending meetings with individuals as well as with departments, gathering and sharing information specific to the wide range of areas impacted, consulting on and developing action plans, and so on.
Grievances and Formal Complaints
We can and will file formal grievances everywhere there is an abuse of management rights, including failure to adhere to University Policy and/or the University Act, particularly in regard to the powers and duties of Faculties. We have taken this action before and will do so again as necessary. Given the broad scope of the difficulties we have been experiencing at the hands of the Employer, we are also considering a Labour Board complaint.
Faculty Councils have power as the representatives of the Faculties under both their own bylaws and the University Act. They are the only place in University governance where faculty members have a majority voice. We urge the membership to make full use of Faculty Councils to oppose the proposed budget and actions deriving from it, and to assert our rights as the academics and subject matter experts in the institution who are rightfully charged with determining the best ways to teach and deliver our programs.
Most important, we all must remember that our greatest strength is our solidarity, our will and our willingness to stand together, to speak, and to act in the interest of us all. Your KFA are just the most visible representatives of this solidarity, and all of us together can act towards the benefit of our collective. You as an individual or together with your department and/or your Faculty can certainly make your concerns heard through direct communication with the KPU President, VP Academic, and/or VP Finance and Administration. You can ask the University Board to reject this budget and direct the administrators to redraft it. You can write to the Minister of Advanced Education and/or your MLA and tell them what you think of this approach to public education.
Finally, if we are indeed in fiscal crisis, then we must ask: how did we get there? It wasn’t because of our teaching, and it wasn’t because of our students. Yet we, the faculty body, as well as our students being denied educational opportunities, are the ones absorbing much of the pain, while administration sees a disproportionate increase. We, your representatives, have no intention of allowing this misguided approach to stand unchallenged, or to allow this proposed budget to move forward unopposed. With your support, we will do our utmost to see it changed.
Please stay tuned in the days to come as our efforts continue to unfold.
Your KFA Table Officers