The 2013 BC government budget and what it means for UBC

The BC 2013 budget document is out. It doesn’t even use the words: productivity, innovation, research, university, or college. By taking a leaf out of the feds’ work manual, the provincial government is expecting us to rejoice upon hearing that the cuts are not as deep as announced in earlier budgets. One wonders whether all this has anything to do with Don Wright deciding to work with the NDP. In any case, it is not a good omen for post-secondary education overall, and it surely gives the NDP many holes to fill and capitalize on in the upcoming election. Here are some figures.

Last year, the government had projected a $20 million in planned funding reductions for the whole post-secondary education sector for fiscal year 2013/14, and a further $30 million in fiscal year 2014/15. These reductions were to be achieved through administrative efficiencies. This equated to an approximate 1 percent cut to the operating grant in 2013/14 and a further 1.5 percent reduction in 2014/15.

This budget has reduced the cut to $5 million. The rest of the cuts have been delayed by one year. More precisely, the budget for 2013 reflects a reduction of $5 million for administrative savings and discretionary spending. On the other hand, it provides an additional $2.4 million for the UBC Medical School, hence the announced reduction across the sector for  2013/14 is $2.6 million.

The 2014/15 post-secondary budget will be cut by $17.6 million. This reflects a reduction of $20 million –supposedly in administrative savings– but again a $2.4 million increase for the UBC Medical School (for an annual ongoing $4.8 million for the Medical School).

A further $25 million reduction –again in administrative savings– is reflected in Year 3 of the fiscal plan. Government has effectively pushed out, by one year, the $50 million reduction for administrative savings identified in Budget 2012. Obviously, a lot can happen in that time frame …  Like an election or something.

For UBC, this means a reduction of $1.25 million to the 2013/14 base operating grant instead of the $5 million anticipated earlier this month by the UBC administration. So it is still a net budget cut.

Note that back in July 2012, the government had announced a total salary freeze and an end to bonuses for all public sector senior managers, including those at schools, universities and health organizations. The freeze affected more that 220 senior administrators and senior managers and professionals at UBC.

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