Two schools, each with approximately 30,000 students, comparable levels of provincial funding, and located within the same province, a mere 300 kilometres away from each other. The two schools, despite their amazing similarities, display a remarkable disparity on budget funding for student awards, scholarships, and bursaries. These two schools are the University of Calgary and University of Alberta.
Nearly three times as much money is being provided to student awards at the U of A than here at the U of C. During the last fiscal year, the U of A budgeted a remarkable $56,730 on student awards, while the U of C was at a mere $18,219.
"Increasing [funding] in this area has been established as a high priority," defended U of C Vice-President Finance and Services Michael McAdam. "Every dean at this school has made it a priority to generate funding."
"There have been many developments," echoed Gary Durbeniuk, Chief Development Officer at the University of Calgary. "A position for a fulltime coordinator for student awards was created a year and a half ago, and it is one of the top three priorities for faculty to fund raise. [These decisions] are starting to pay dividends."
The university attempts to spend approximately 15-20 per cent of its budget on student support. The last fiscal year was the most significant fund-raising year ever at the university, with several million dollars raised for student awards.
One problem is that donors often choose where they would like their donation to go, Durbeniuk explained. Of the $26.7 million in donations the university received last year, $7 million was specifically allocated to the Department of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering. This can disproportionately affect the percentage of the budget spent on awards.
When asked if the budget cuts had affected fundraising, Durbeniuk was emphatic.
"I feel no pressure," he said. "Within the realm of other institutes, we are fairly comparable. Our goal is to provide a better experience for students.
"The trouble is this fundraising is in a different category than [in the financial reports]," continued Durbeniuk. "It is not placed in expenditures to student scholarships and bursaries."
McAdam and Durbeniuk both stated the short history of the university as another reason for the U of A being ahead in scholarships and bursaries. The U of C endowment funds stand at approximately $270 million, which is eighth in the country. The University of Alberta's endowment funds are around $550 million.
"You have to look at how much longer the U of A has been around," said McAdam. "The University of Calgary has been around for approximately 40 years while the University of Alberta has been here for almost 100."