U of C cut-back reactions

By Вen Li

Less than a week after the University of Calgary announced a $37 million budget reduction, details of the plan have not been released but reaction from some areas has been swift.

Office of International Marketing and Recruitment Manager Nikki Croft said on Mon., Nov. 25 that the announcement had immediate effects on the International Centre as it relies heavily on direct funding from the university.

“Each of the directors will start determining cost-cutting measures and looking at possible revenue-generation opportunities,” said Croft. “The other thing being considered is a possible increase in international student tuition fees to be consistent with other universities, but that’s far down the road.”

Croft stated that cuts would result in diminished recruitment efforts abroad and an increase in the International Centre’s reliance on volunteers. As well, the composition of the international student body at the U of C may change.

“Recruitment of international students aligns with the university’s commitment for internationalization,” said Croft. “Our office is now focusing virtually solely on graduate student recruitment because of undergraduate capacity issues.”

In 2001, 1,031 full-time international students attended the U of C on visas, 36 per cent of whom were graduate students.

Meanwhile, the Faculty of Kinesiology’s Director of Athletics Don Wilson said any potential funding reduction would not have as profound an effect on his area.

“From an athletics point of view, we receive about 13 per cent of our total [$2.5 million] budget from the university,” said Wilson on Tue., Nov. 26. “The rest we receive from student fees and other sources like sponsorships and events.”

Wilson said that athletics aligns well with the university’s strategic focus and academic plan.

“If you look at Raising Our Sights and the focus on community development and research, we are a living lab,” said Wilson. “We perhaps more than anyone other than Continuing Education are in the public eye. We rely heavily on community support.”

Also in public view is the Faculty of Fine Arts. Dr. Ann Calvert, Dean of the faculty, is concerned about potential effects from reduced funding.

“We have had very preliminary discussions about the overall situation and what our faculty can do to contribute to the university as a whole,” said Calvert. “Our concern has to be our ability to do what we do best to contribute to the university’s profile in the community, where we do really well.”

Reacting to the academic plan earlier this year, the faculty increased its research efforts, including establishing the Center for Research in the Fine Arts.

“We’ve identified a number of research activities that correspond to the [Academic Plan] principles in human activity and culture, and are collecting information on researchers and their work to demonstrate our strengths,” said Calvert. “We’re offering some new ideas in the implementation of those strategic plans and are seeking some funding for some new research initiatives.”

Calvert said that a strength of the faculty lies in its members.

“We’ve got remarkable people in this place, they’ve got incredible human resources,” she said. “They are incredibly innovative, that’s the thing that will give us the ideas we need to meet the challenge.”

According to Dr. John Baker, The University of Calgary Faculty Association’s President, any potential cuts would come at a time when faculty are already under stress and overworked.

“This is not a situation that improves morale amongst the faculty,” said Baker. “We are concerned partly for the well-being of the university, partly for the well-being of the faculty and partly for the well-being of the students.”

Baker attributes the current funding situation to the lack of provincial university funding.

“It’s important that the provincial government hear the message that the base budget funding for the university is not adequate for the university to work,” said Baker. “We need funding to behave like a public institution to provide professional development and research.”

Alberta Union of Public Employees Local 52 Chairman Dan Tilleman is optimistic that the university’s strategic focus will better utilize financial resources.

“With a strong, narrow focus, we will continue to have a university that meets the needs of students and the community,” said Tilleman. “There will be work for support staff if the university continues to exist in a strong fashion. If we don’t address the problem, there might not be a university for anyone to work at.”

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