Budget 2012: Reduced spending means grim outlook for post-secondary education

"The Finance Minster says he wants to challenge our institutions to spend less, but his challenge comes on top of a decade-long trend in which his government has already cut real per-student funding by close to 9 per cent," said George Davison, Secretary Treasurer of the Federation of Post-Secondary Educators. Davison's comments came in reaction to the tabling of the 2012 BC Budget which forecasts reductions in capital spending for post-secondary institutions along with further pressure on post-secondary institutional operating grants. "This is not a good news budget for our institutions, the communities in which they operate, but most of all, for the students who want to access their post-secondary learning opportunities," Davison added.

"The only thing increasing in post-secondary education budgets is the forecast increase in tuition fee revenues. That's a pretty dismal message to our sector and one that runs at odds with the Premier's earlier claims that her job strategy would give priority for post-secondary education in BC," Davison noted.

"This budget will only intensify the pressure on our institutions to make further cuts in program offerings and student services. We need to see both of those strengthened, not undermined as this budget is doing," Davison stressed. "Making the problem even worse, this budget is going to cut capital spending at our institutions by close to $100 million. That will translate into more crowded institutions, equipment and lab facilities that don't keep pace with current technology and less maintenance of our existing facilities," Davison concluded.

2012 BC Budget Backgrounder

Overview

BC's 2012 fiscal plan shows some disturbing trends, trends that will put increasing pressures on the operating budgets of every post-secondary institution in BC. BC's Finance Minister, Kevin Falcon, says he wants "to challenge every institution to cut spending by 1%", a move that will only add to the already underfunded condition of BC's colleges, institutes and universities. What the Finance Minister does not say in his budget speech is that his government has, for the last decade, effectively cut real per-student operating grants by close to 9% since 2001.

The Minister of Finance's approach leaves very little in the way of significant changes in the government's current fiscal strategy funding. The trend lines that were evident in previous budgets continue on in this one. Particularly hard hit in this budget will be capital spending plans for every post-secondary institution. Falcon's plan calls for almost a $100 million cut in post-secondary education capital spending. While some of that spending translates into more buildings, a major portion of the cut in capital spending will mean less spending on the equipment and technology that is designed to keep our institutions current and relevant.

Affordability continues to be a major challenge for BC post-secondary students. Tuition fee revenues are projected to continue to rise over the next three years of the budget forecast by close to 3% per year. The projected drop in total enrolment across the system points to the affordability and access crunch that comes with ever-rising tuition fees.

Summary of Key Budget Measures for Post-Secondary Education 

Total Operating Grants, 2011/2012:
  $1.858 (Billion)
Total Operating Grants, 2012/2013:   $1.867 (Billion)
Total Student FTEs, 2011/2012:    206,320
Total Student FTEs, 2012/2013:  201,307

 

 

 

About FPSE

The Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of BC is the provincial voice for faculty and staff in BC teaching universities, colleges and institutes, and in private sector institutions. FPSE member locals, represented by Presidents' Council and the Executive, represent over 10,000 faculty and staff at 18 public and 12 private sector institutions.