Financial Sustainability and Institutional Strength
The academic plan’s fifth theme, Financial Sustainability and Institutional Strength, is the only one that isn’t also an accreditation theme.
But the university’s financial health is critical to both initiatives, says the theme’s team leader, associate VP-academic Bill Krane.
“Our work cuts across all of the other teams and the work they’re doing,” says Krane, whose teammates include institutional research and planning director, Jacy Lee, and financial and budget administration director, Anita Stepan. “Our job is to assess the university’s financial viability and suggest changes to academic operations,” adds Lee.
“It provides the underpinnings for a lot of the other things that happen around our structure.”
Krane’s team has a long list of priorities beginning with simplifying SFU’s overly complicated graduate tuitions structure and internal support programs to better meet graduate student needs.
But arguably its most far-reaching priority is to work with the finance department and faculty administrators to replace SFU’s incrementally based budgetary system with a performance-based system that instills greater operational planning transparency and accountability.
With the current system “You get what you had before or you take a cut and then new monies are added in based on what’s available. People really feel like they’re getting jerked in two directions.”
The proposed new system would tie budget levels directly to the tuition dollars faculties generate.
The university will also direct part of its provincial government grant monies directly to faculties and support areas and use success in Tri-Council competition as a determinant in divvying out federal government “indirect cost” money directly to the faculties.
Krane’s group is also looking at the ongoing reorganization of Continuing Studies and evaluating faculty revenue-sharing programs and university revenue-generating enterprises.
As well, it is weighing the pros and cons of admitting more international students and finding better ways to manage enrollments.
Many of the budgetary changes could happen this fiscal year but others could take several years to implement.
“A lot of the things we’re doing will have a direct positive effect on the quality of the student experience,” says Krane, “by improving our ability to support world-class research, provide exciting degree opportunities and finance innovative teaching and learning.”