Student numbers may control faculties’ funds

By Andy Kronstedt

On June 20, 2000, a committee organized by University of Calgary Vice-president Academic Ronald Bond set out to investigate the implementation of a new enrolment management policy at the U of C. One key point of the new policy could be to put more emphasis on the number of students enrolled in a faculty to determine the amount of funding it receives. The committee has come to no definite conclusions, though the investigation continues.

"We’re just looking into it, that’s it," stated Bond. "What we’d have to have is a customized methodology for the U of C, and not duplicate any other ones, but try and learn from them."

Few faculties have discussed the possible establishment of a new enrolment policy, although many of the smaller faculties will soon hold a meeting to discuss its possible implications. However, most deans are optimistic.

"We have been assured by the Vice-president Academic and the Vice-president Finance Keith Winter that it will not have a negative impact on our unit," explained Dean of Social Work Gayla Rogers.

One possible complication surrounding the potential policy is the vast difference in student enrolment numbers in both large and small faculties. This could mean that a smaller faculty, such as Social Work or Fine Arts, may receive less funding for its needs, as compared to much larger faculties such as Engineering and Social Sciences. This lack of funding could lead to higher tuition or degradation in the quality of education that a faculty can offer.

"Whatever policy goes in place has to have finesse, so as to account for the difference in faculties," said Dean of Fine Arts Ann Calvert.

Another possible hindrance may be the difference in the financial requirement of labs and staff between the different faculties. A faculty such as Engineering not only requires a large number of staff, but also a great deal of equipment and tools, whereas faculties such as Social Work, require much less support and equipment.

"Our budget would depend on a number of things, but this is a key factor," said Dean of Engineering Chan Wirasinghe about the idea of funding based on student enrolment numbers.

This implies that not only would a new funding policy have to take into consideration student numbers, but also the base financial cost of the faculty.

Despite some underlying concerns about the possible implementation of the policy, the committee and Bond claim to have the support of the faculties and their staff, and they feel any policy that is put in place will be well received.

"Overall, we support the university in decentralizing its budget," said Wirasinghe. "I think there are innovative ideas here and an attempt to think differently," agreed Calvert.

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