Board approves $306.2 million budget

June 09, 2005, vol. 33, no. 4
By Diane Luckow

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After months of campus-wide consultation, Simon Fraser University has a new $306.2 million operating budget committed to quality education and student accessibility.

The new budget, approved by the board of governors, also supports the university's need to remain competitive in recruiting students, staff and faculty.

There will be small increases (two per cent) in tuition and ancillary fees for students in accordance with the provincial government's directive that tuition fee increases be limited to two per cent. The budget also allows for an increase of four per cent to scholarship and bursary funds, bringing this year's student aid to $15,269,000.

The new budget provides increased funding for new curriculum and other strategic programming initiatives, including the new French language program, activities at SFU Surrey and the newly launched faculty of health sciences.

Ongoing faculty renewal - more than 90 new academic appointments are expected in 2005-06 - also required additional funding to attract and retain the best faculty and ensure the highest quality of academic instruction and research.

Yet creating the 2005-06 operating budget was particularly challenging because of government limits on tuition increases. Additional negotiations with the government after its budget was handed down resulted in a $2.7 million top-up, which Pat Hibbitts, VP-finance and administration, says was applied to base operating expenses. She says the two per cent increase in tuition fees, which matches B.C.'s current inflation rate, does not realistically address the inflation index for post-secondary education.

Faculty salaries, as well as non-academic costs like utility rates and the costs of purchasing specialized equipment outside Canada, all have risen more than two per cent.

"Much of what we were able to achieve in this year's budget is the result of using one-time money coupled with reductions in areas such as student recruitment, specialized programs and maintenance of campus facilities and grounds," says SFU President Michael Stevenson. "The kinds of decisions we've been forced to make this year are not sustainable."

Hibbitts and Stevenson hope that ongoing discussions with the provincial government will see an increase in funding.

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