A massive deficit of approximately $2.5 million has forced Brock University administration to take drastic measures in order to balance its books. This deficit is expected to increase to $7 million this academic year, putting even more pressure on the University to find a solution.
The most recent of such efforts is a program review aimed at identifying crucial university programs and cutting ones that are no longer feasible.
The program review is headed by a task force made up of several department heads and administrators. They will examine how effectively resources are used by administrative programs, academic programs, ancillary fees, research initiatives, student services and support services.
The task force defines “program” as “a particular group of resources (people, dollar, equipment, supplies, etc) to provide a product or service…All activities that employ University resources or are undertaken in the name of Brock must be part of some program”.
The multi-step process involves programs documenting their expenses, their accomplishments and student interest in order to defend their funding. This documentation is then reviewed by the task force who puts forth recommendations to university decision-makers (the Board and/or Senate).
It is unclear yet which programs/services will have funding reduced or completely cut off. It is also not yet known how this financial restructuring will impact students, though answers to these questions will be available when the program review is completed at the end of 2013.
The review will undoubtedly impact students in some way and thus, platforms exist for students to voice their opinion and safeguard the programs that they hold dear. The task force plans to hold town-hall meetings in September to gather community input.
The University states that these new measures are necessary due to changing economic landscapes and new technologies that create deficits for which increased enrollment cannot make up. In spite of ever-rising tuition rates, Brock seems to lack the funds it needs to operate the University.
Brock accrued consecutive profits from 2004 to 2007, but began running deficits in 2008. The University had made many attempts to rectify the situation leading up to this program review. Budget-cuts have already been made to most programs and departments, which reeled Brock back from a roughly $16 million deficit in 2009. While successful in capping some of the red plummets on Brock’s financial statements, these cuts have not gone far enough.
The program review helps to save the programs that the University deems most valuable, rather than severely limiting the potential of all programs. However, some students have raised concerns that the university’s priorities may differ from students’.
“It seems unfair that all students pay for things like the gyms and the Zone, even though not all of us use them,” said Alannah King, a first-year Psychology student.
Brock is not alone in its financial troubles. Other universities, such as Guelph and Wilfrid Laurier, have employed a similar system to assess the feasibility of their academic programs and student services. At Victoria Island University, their program review resulted in cutting its BA degree program in Theatre.
For updates about the review process, dates for openhouses and results, check out http://www.brocku.ca/program-review/.