DATE: Wednesday, August 19th
General overarching themes this meeting: my lack of a laptop, hot yoga, French accents and sucking wind
Food: GREEK food. This definitely made my day
And the award for best dressed goes to: Brian Sullivan, wearing a very snazzy tan suit with a plaid green and red bowtie. Bow ties are hard to wear properly without looking like a waiter, and Brian managed to pull off the Academic-distinguished look perfectly. A very close second goes to Matthew Naylor’s black hat and CPAC shirt combo.
Coming to this meeting from a gruelling hot yoga class puts everything into a weird perspective. As I slowly inhaled and exhaled and watched the meeting unfold, I couldn’t help but think on a grander scale, quickly realizing that every single change this university (and this council) puts forth will always have both a negative and positive side regardless of how hard we try to please all.
PRANAYAMA BREATHING: Just like the beginning breathing exercises in hot yoga help establish the rest of the class, so too did Brian Sullivan, VP Students at UBC, and Pierre Ouillet’s, VP Finance Resource and Operations, presentation on a new financial model help establish a new plan for upcoming years here at UBC. Working hard with UBC’s strategic plan (http://www.strategicplan.ubc.ca/index.html), this financial model will serve to (a) develop a simple and sustainable budgeting framework (b) deliver a balanced budget for 2010-2011 and (c) identify revenue and expense opportunities. For the next few paragraphs, I will try to outline the main changes proposed, but before I start, I‘d like to commend UBC on coming to present to council and their frankness, honesty, and transparency this year. Please note that these proposed changes that have not yet been approved, and thus may undergo significant changes when they are brought to the Deans come September 9th.
For more information on this year’s budget, please check out:http://www.finance.ubc.ca/budgets/documents/2009_10UBCBudgetSummaryBook06Aug2009.pdf (Sauder is on page 22)
THE STANDING SERIES:
(A) Mo’ money, mo’ students and no mo’ historical budget allocations
One of the emerging recommendations brought forward was to allocate resources to faculties and student aid on strategic enrolment and not on historical numbers. In other words, if Sauder received $55,325,000 last year, it will not necessarily receive the same this year simply because that was the previous amount.
According to Pierre and Brian, the amount given to faculties will be approximately 75% of a student’s tuition (actually it’s per student enrolment per class since some students from arts might want to take commerce courses and so forth) plus an extra amount per student that will be adjusted over time and greater for graduates than undergraduates. What is the percentage now you ask? Well, since I am currently unemployed, I took the time to figure that out using actual enrolment figures from last year and while the numbers were confusing at best and I had to do some assumptions, I focused primarily on the GPO allocation with regards to enrolment. The General Purpose Operating fund (or I believe that is what it stands for) “is the primary funding source to support the University’s academic mission”. Currently Sauder receives $25,043,000 from this fund, which is about $8,231,946.80 less than what it receives from tuition (Assuming 20% international enrolment across the board and that all graduates are MBA full-time). So if we crunch all the numbers, and I’ve included the screen shot of the excel sheet in this post, we get about 75%. This means that already, according to the 2009/2010 budget, Sauder receives about 75% of its tuition back in the form of GPO funding. Of course, this is only one fund of many and in the end Sauder receives much more from other funds but the allocation of the GPO here is basically where it would be in the new financial model.
(B) B is for Balanced Budget!
The expected 2010/2011 Budget includes a:
13m structural deficit from the 2009/2010 budget
6m previously negotiated salary increases (unions!)
3m in a reduction in investment income (recession!)
3m Strategic Priorities (development!?)
Which amounts to a projected deficit of 25 million dollars
To balance this budget, UBC proposes to take out from their building operations savings, increase ancillary contributions (ancillaries are basically wings of UBC such as UBC housing or UBC Conferences and Food services) and reduce contingencies. This will total about nine million dollars.
*One interesting thing here that UBC would like to do is to invest more in housing/properties and essentially leverage itself to buy properties. This is an interesting funding proposal and while the province cannot offer UBC the loans it needs, UBC is looking at other methods. Hummm, maybe UBC can start to buy houses near the university and rent them out to students? Just sayin’. This would total about 16 million dollars.
(C) Revenue Enhancements and Cost Reduction initiatives
A series of eight recommendations have been formulated:
1. International Student Enrolment expansion
To increase full time international student enrolment from 10% to 20%. One particular concern from the AMS regarding this issue is whether the increase will come at domestic student’s expense. Brian assured the AMS that as a public institution, UBC is mandated by the provincial government to provide domestic students sufficient seats first. To increase international enrolment, UBC will focus on international marketing (thank you Olympics), making sure there is enough capacity, different admissions since GPA is not standardized across the world, student housing, and lastly ESL requirements. I think I speak on behalf on the average Sauder student when I say that this is all great and dandy just as long as I’m not forced to be in a group with someone who clearly cannot speak English. Another concern lies with provincial funding; if UBC expands to include more international students, the argument for the province would be why should we pay our tax-payer money to support foreign students (of course tuition for international students is at “full-cost” but still).
2. Efficient Learning Model
Seek opportunities to reduce teaching costs while maintaining or enhancing the student learning experience. From what I gather, UBC is proposing to redesign curriculum at least on some level. Coming from commerce where many upper-level courses are specific and small and many classes are innovative and experimental, I fear this proposal will do more harm than good but I look forward to seeing how this plays out.
3. Increasing Professional Tuition
A professional education is basically an education that prepares novices for highly skilled occupations such as law, medicine, engineering, and (mostly) commerce through a combination of theory and practice potentially ending with a certification, licensure, or other formal credential. Therefore, UBC is lobbying the provincial government to relax the 2% tuition cap so that they can charge more money to certain students in certain programs. An increase in tuition will, no doubt, cause an increase in student aid and directly benefit the faculty (via the 75% budget change mentioned above). With that said, I think Bijan brought up an important concern that the higher cost (and higher perceived cost) in such programs will restrict people with a lower income from enrolling, causing a reduction in income diversity and is therefore against UBC’s mission to create global citizens. I would go one step further and warn UBC against fostering an elitist group of faculties where only the richest students can attend. As someone who comes from a modest background, I personally know students who have decided to attend other universities simply and only because they were cheaper. For me, university choice should NEVER be because of available funds, and I’m afraid that while this will end up helping Sauder on a whole (so much actually), it might significantly hurt students on an individual level. In the end, this discussion is way too large to be further developed here, but needs to be considered on all fronts at one point in the near future.
4. New IT model
Centralize IT. woot woot ERP’s!!!
5. Supply Management
Develop partnerships with providers such as Xerox and software providers and execute a management plan encompassing all of UBC
6. Cultural Venues
Increase revenue of cultural venues such as the museums and other venues. (mo’ concerts!!! well, maybe not considering the current situation with the RCMP and the UNA)
7. Administrative Faculty efficiencies
Combining the administrative wings of smaller faculties together
8. Look into better summer usage of campus in terms of housing and such
Personal idea: more Irish folk! Ahahha.
It seems like UBC is starting to significantly change the way it operates (duh) in the wake of financial turmoil and changing demographics. As UBC quickly becomes a university-town, it will have to somehow balance creating a community of undergraduate students (something it is losing quickly) with providing research and grad opportunities (something it wants to increase). MacLean’s just recently published an interesting article where it interviewed Canada’s biggest five universities and from that interview, a unanimous sentiment of undergraduate “relocation” was expressed. Check it out: http://oncampus.macleans.ca/education/2009/07/28/our-universities-can-be-smarter/
Just a funny note here, as I was making my way across campus Wednesday afternoon, I came a across a young family. The little boy kept lagging behind his parents and his father was getting frustrated. He turned to his son and said, “Come closer, this is UBC. This is one of the most dangerous places in Vancouver” and proceeded to grab the kid’s hand. Dangerous? Really? I was both embarrassed and slightly angered. Clearly those people do not go downtown often enough.
You know you’re a university-town when…. young families refer to campus as a “dangerous place”
Approval of a whole bunch of minutes and updates:
Blake’s all about communicating, doing radio, TV and interviews
Getting himself on the evening news
First week events he will attend
And more student groups he will befriend
Never forgetting his student views
Johannes: First year seminar in the strategic plan
Looking into the allocation of housing points for the Greek System
Working on the Appointments Review Committee
MED palliative care application
VPs Academic meeting (I would like to know if Chris was there!)
Taking a Stay-cation
Crystal: Working on a consolidated subsidy form for Upass and sub-renew
Integrating the SUB project into classes
Having a SUB booth in Clubs Days
Waiting for the P3 report
Organizing Clubs Days and Dean’s debate
Adding a baby change table in the gender neutral washroom (we have a gender neutral washroom!?)
Tom: Working on hiring a Senior HR Director (three really good candidates)
BOC is looking at new fancy point-of-sales systems
Looking forward to a meeting with UBC catering
And looking at the Whistler Lottery system
Motion to oppose StudenAid cuts:
“Whereas the post-secondary education system has been underfunded;
Whereas the budget for StudentAid BC was frozen as per the 2009/2010 BC Government Budget; and
Whereas the BC Government recently cut $16 million in student aid programs;
BE IT RESOLVED THAT the AMS oppose the $16 million cut in student aid programs;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT the AMS call on the BC Government to reverse the $16 million cut;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT the AMS work towards adequate funding for student aid; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT AMS Council authorize an awareness campaign in regards to the cuts.”
Recently, the Provincial government cut 16 million dollars in student aid (http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/news/westcoastnews/story.html?id=3c8e1c84-153b-4948-b646-7d130f6b5af3&k=11215). This sucks. End of story. But as a student organization this should be the beginning of a very nasty and publicized campaign. The science-proxy, Colin Simkus, motivated this motion, saying that come September 1st, when the BC government introduces its new budget, cuts to students will most likely be more than 16 million. Therefore, we need to make some noise and be heard and cause a ruckus so that the government takes notice. That is why the awareness campaign needs to occur. There was an amendment included saying that the campaign can only come from previously budgeted funds.
I am a little apprehensive about this as I really feel the urgency of this campaign. What I’m most afraid of is student apathy. I think Colin got it right when he said that we should be marching at the art gallery, getting those sob stories out and making it the big deal is already is. I am relying on the External Policy Committee and Tim to fully get this campaign going, and going soon.
APPOINTING A MAL TO THE AD-HOC EQUITY AND DIVERSITY COMMITTEE. There is one spot left! E-mail me with your contact info and why you want to be on it at firstname.lastname@example.org Also, like always, feel free to e-mail me with any questions/concerns you may have.
FINAL BREATHING EXERCISE:
Sometimes, AMS meetings are a lot like hot yoga classes: they drag on, serve to crush your ego and are too hot and sticky— but when they’re done, you can’t help but feel absolutely, positively amazing and inspired.