By Andrea Hay
Saving bucks won out over student health and quality education in this year’s University of Calgary budget.
The University Budget Committee got out its budget axe again in an attempt to deal with provincial government funding cuts of another seven per cent. The funding cuts are right on schedule for the second year of Advanced Education’s three-year deficit reduction plan.
To manage the seven per cent cut in this year’s grant, the U of C Board of Governors approved a balanced budget for the 1995/96 year. Facing a $10.6 million shortfall, Board members set net operating and capital expenditures at $194,930,700.
According to Vice-president (Finance and Services) Keith Winter, each area was responsible for choosing the scope the cuts would have.
“All (units) are marching to a roughly similar destination. (They) decided how they would reach that point.”
University Health Services will see its budget reduced by 50 per cent over the next two years.
“(We) talked to Jason Allen (SU president 94/95) about what students want and tried to find a balance between what students want and what they are willing to pay for,” said Winter, explaining the harsh cut to Health Services.
Students’ Union President Kate Kimberley says Health Services is an area that can make money with a broadening of its services. According to Kimberley, as long as the quality and accessibility remain the same for students, she doesn’t see privatizing Health Services as being detrimental.
Individual faculties face cuts ranging from 1.6 per cent to 6.6 per cent.
Kimberley said the across-the-board cuts faced by all faculties are a major threat to the quality of education at the U of C.
“Faculties such as Social Sciences will have great difficulty in absorbing these cuts without jeopardizing the quality of its education,” said Kimberley. “It’s a difficult message for faculty to deal with.
“They’re feeling under the gun and that feeling is translated to students-it becomes a morale issue.”
However, Winter asserts that protecting the integrity of education is still a priority, “We have tried our best to preserve the teaching function.”
At the top of that list is the Cooperative Education Office, the “number one priority for expansion: of the U of C,” according to Winter. And the university’s Teaching Development Office ranks a close second.
But Kimberley says the cuts are:’ short-sighted effects of the provincial government’s slash-and-burn approach to deficit reduction.
“Don’t be surprised if fewer students show up; don’t be surprised if students go to a university with better services,” said Kimberley. “Students will look for quality and the U of C may not be the place people come to.’