Red ink the reason U of C seeking tuition hikes, forum told

The University of Calgary is facing a $36-million budget shortfall this year, a forum on the institution’s financial situation has been told.

That’s why the university is seeking market-modifier tuition increases in the business, law and engineering faculties, Linda Dalgetty, the school’s vice-president for finance and services, told the meeting.

“The challenge to this budget cycle and the cycles going forward is that we have this expense gap and we need to find a way to close it,” said Dalgetty.

For the current budget cycle, the university was expecting to receive a total sum of $456 million to finance the institution, but, due to the 2013 provincial funding cut of 7.3 per cent, they only received $420 million.

The forum, which took place on Oct. 14 in Mac Hall A, had U of C president Elizabeth Cannon, provost and vice-president academic Dru Marshall, and Dalgetty present to explain the university’s financial situation.

The audience consisted of several hundred university students, faculty members, and administration representatives, while another 160 people watched via an online live stream.

“It is really important for us to have an open and honest discussion,” said Marshall.

She acknowledged that not everyone was at the same level of understanding about the budget, saying that some “financial 101” was necessary to get everyone on the same page.

Dalgetty says that she sees the market modifiers, which would lead to a tuition hike for students of the selected programs, as a way of creating a sustainable financial future for U of C.

“We have come a long, long way on the path to financial stability,” said Dalgetty.

If approved by the government, the market modifiers would apply tuition increases to three U of C programs.

The Haskayne School of Business proposed a $300-per-course increase for masters of business administration students, while the faculty of law proposed a tuition hike of $250-per-course and the faculty of engineering proposed a $170-per-course increase.

When asked how the university justifies pushing through budgetary decisions that the majority of students disagree with, Marshall pointed out that officials already received conditional letters of support from two of the three affected student groups.

These letters came from the Society of Law Students and the MBA Students Association.

If the market modifiers are approved, 50 per cent of the additional revenue will go to the faculty, 30 per cent to administration and 20 per cent will be put towards scholarships and bursaries.

The proposals were submitted to the provincial government on Oct. 15 and they will either be approved or rejected by Nov. 17.

It was also revealed that as of March 31, 2014, U of C has $73 million in unrestricted net assets.

We have come a long, long way on the path to financial stability. – Linda Dalgetty, U of C vice-president, finance and services

Asked why the university didn’t use these funds to plug the budget shortfall, instead of increasing tuition, Marshall said that unrestricted net assets are specifically saved for emergency spending.

“It was not my first choice to increase tuition,” said Marshall.

“But I have a fiduciary responsibility to manage the university, so we have to look at all kinds of ways to do that.”

For more information on U of C tuition visit their official website.

About Ryan MacLean 7 Articles
As a writing and communications major in the journalism program at SAIT, Ryan MacLean is working as a reporter for The Press during the 2014-2015 academic year.