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Strategic Approach to Dealing Lith Education Budget Shortfall

Written By Julianna Benson on Thursday, March 28, 2013 | 2:15 AM

Strategic Approach to Dealing Lith Education Budget Shortfall Strategic Approach to Dealing Lith Education Budget Shortfall - Faculty, staff and students at With its draft Letter of Expectation from Alberta Enterprise and Advanced Education in hand, the college knows its operating grant will be roughly $40.4 million, down from about $47 million last year.
Lethbridge College got a budget update last week at two town hall meetings.

At the town halls, people wanted to know how the college would balance its budget and whether it would dip into reserves. "We were clear about what our goal is, which is to submit a balanced budget to our board," said Paula Burns, president. The college will not be doing across-the-board cuts but will take a strategic approach to position the college in the new post-secondary reality. Burns said she couldn't yet say whether the budget cuts will mean job losses but that could happen.


Even before the letter arrived, Burns said the college was looking at its strengths and how it meets the need of the economy, both provincially and regionally. Her vision of the college is that it will be a leader in transforming the education system (see HERE).
"We are going to be a big part of the move toward whatever it's going to look like, which is very unclear at this point," she said.
Burns said she wasn't surprised by anything in the letter and added she believes there's plenty of room for consultation and for the college to provide leadership in defining itself and how it contributes to Campus Alberta.
Faculty at Lethbridge College are well aware of the possibility of job losses, even though that has yet to be finalized.
"It's very clear that administration wants to have a fairly collaborative process in which faculty members also contribute ideas to how the college could manage such a massive cut to their operating budget," said Rika Snip, president of the Lethbridge College Faculty Association.
The draft letters of expectation sent to all post-secondary institutions talk about reviewing the programs being offered to build on existing institutional strengths while advancing the Campus Alberta system and offering programs that employers and students want. The letters also talk about reducing program duplication.
"We're a comprehensive community college. As the system moves to creating these specialized centres and trying to reduce duplication they're also going to reduce access for students because there are going to be fewer programs, students are going to have to move. It will be more competitive because there will be fewer programs," Snip said.
Faculty also have concerns about the consequences of the budget cuts.
"It seems to me the government has decided that the professions are all too highly overpaid and particularly college administrators are too highly paid so we can darn well take a cut. What it means, though, is that the cut will be carried by particularly casual faculty and programs that are small," Snip said.
Casual faculty have no collective agreement and program cancellations could lead to further job losses.
"For those who remain the implications suggest that we will have larger classes and that faculty therefore will be forced to figure out ways to manage their workload with a higher student load," she said.
Snip said faculty are feeling generally disappointed in the government that, on the one hand, wants post-secondary institutions to educate people for the workforce and the economy but, on the other, doesn't want to pay for it.
The Lethbridge College Students' Association also came forward with concerns about the Letter of Expectation (see HERE).
"The thing with these mandate letters is once they're signed it gives the government a lot of leeway in making these decisions, possibly to the detriment of students," said Dillon Hargreaves, LCSA president.
The LCSA doesn't support the government's intentions for the post-secondary education system. Hargreaves said the government will be evaluating programs offered and deciding what programs will be offered where. And if students have to leave home anyway Hargreaves predicts they'll head right out of province.
Source : www.lethbridgeherald.com
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