Concordia will be making serious cuts to programs and hiring over the next two years, according to vice provost David Graham.
Concordia administrators are predicting a deficit of approximately $10 million next year, after losing $4 million this year.
Graham confirmed that students would not be excluded from the cuts, and that graduate students might feel the brunt, including cuts to teaching and research assistants, but just how deep those cuts will be is still up in the air.
“It’s too early to tell what exactly is going to be in dollar terms,” said Graham.
In 2006, the provincial government changed the funding formula for university programs, leading to a more than $11 million drop in Concordia’s revenues.
However, as Graham is quick to note, the drop in revenues only exacerbated an already existing problem.
According to university administrators, Concordia’s operating costs are currently rising at between 3.5 and four per cent per year – more than twice the rate of increase in government funding.
This shortfall has created a structural deficit of approximately $6 million, which the university must readdress each year.
At the same time, the university’s budget is facing calls from its unions for higher wages and from students for reduced fees.
According to CUPFA VP grievances Richard Bisaillon, the university would be wrong to blame its financial woes on its workers.
“How the university can blame (us) when year after year it’s paying one million dollars in severance agreements to departing administrators, I don’t know.”
Bisaillon also noted that Concordia’s unions have already made significant sacrifices in favour of the university’s bottom line.
“After six, now almost seven years without a contract, we’ve already been patient with the university on this issue,” he added.
Concordia’s student union representatives could not be reached for comment, but Graham noted that low tuition in particular was one of the factors inhibiting Concordia’s growth.
“If Concordia students paid the average Ontario university tuition,” he said, “We’d have another $70 million to use. Now, we don’t need all $70 million, but . . . even a quarter of that would solve our financial difficulties for the near future,” said Graham.
“This isn’t my problem, or the university’s problem,” he said. “This is our problem, and students are going to have to take some ownership of this issue if we’re all going to get through it.”