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June 10, 2004
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Balanced budget includes reduction
Board pushes the envelope

By Aimee Sheppard

When the provincial budget was announced in March, Memorial’s operating grant was increased more than $6.4 million over the previous year’s amount, but that increase was still $2 million short of meeting the university’s needs. Despite this shortfall, the Board of Regents was able to balance the budget for the current fiscal year.

According to President Axel Meisen, there is still a lot of work to be done but the board’s balancing act is a positive sign.

“At the board’s meeting in May we looked at the budget in global terms by envelope,” he said. “For example, there is an academic envelope, an envelope for administration and finance, and for research. Each envelope has its allocation and we determined that it is possible to live within these allocations, thereby accomplishing a balanced budget.”

Dr. Meisen said this means there will be some curtailment of activities within the envelopes, but the envelopes at this level can balance. “Each of our budgets is increasing but not quite enough to meet our increasing demands.”

He said this was a difficult budget for everyone who depends on government support, however government recognized that the university is an important expenditure.

Therefore the province reinstated a teaching equipment fund and reduced the deferred maintenance fund but still provided $3 million for building repairs and upgrades.

Dr. Meisen expects that the budget realities will affect some course offerings but asserts that the quality of the programs will not be affected. “There will likely be some impact on the diversity of programs we offer but I believe that is an acceptable impact given the alternatives. A student that may have had a choice of five electives may have that choice reduced to four but we will ensure that the basic integrity of the programs is not impaired.”

Two primary assumptions about the current fiscal year that guide the budgetary process are that there will be an increase in the number of student enrolments and that the fees for Canadian and international students will remain frozen. Working within those conditions, the various departments and units on campus have until June 14 to find further efficiencies in their operations and to submit revised budget proposals. The Board of Regents will see the detailed budget at its July meeting.


 


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Next issue: June 30, 2004

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