Simon Fraser University

SFU faces financial challenge

Apr 04, 2002 , vol. 23, no. 7

The provincial government's operating budget grant for SFU, handed down in a recent letter, totals $150.2 million and meets university expectations, says Pat Hibbitts, VP-finance.

“The provincial government has lived up to its commitment to double the annual graduates in computing science and engineering over the next five years and it provides us with the funding we need for the Surrey campus, where we are assuming TechBC students,” she says.

The budget also provides anticipated funding amounts for the following two years, providing guidelines of $151,375,378 in year two, but dropping to $147,651,707 in year three. Hibbitts notes that student enrollment is expected to increase over the period, effectively reducing the funding per student.

This year's budget is not without its challenges. “We're still faced with inflationary pressures and a tough market for faculty recruitment,” says Hibbitts. “The budget of $150,253,732 still leaves us in a deficit position unless other revenue options are examined.” Such options could include tuition fee increases.

While the 2002-03 budget does cover the university's share of government-mandated increases in medical services premiums, it won't cover $2.3 million in contractual obligations for wage increases negotiated with faculty, staff and teaching assistants. Nor does it cover the additional $1 million required to preserve the current purchasing power for library acquisitions and university equipment acquisitions.

As well, the budget eliminates $500,000 in graduate teaching and research assistant programs. All university employees who pay half of their medical premiums can expect to see less income on their paycheques to defray the increased premium.

In a departure from past years, the budget includes the annual capital allowance for cyclical maintenance, renovations and repairs, a sum of $5.2 million. “That's not a huge amount for a campus of this size,” observes Hibbitts.