The quad is abuzz with talk of money, or more specifically, the lack of it. The Long Term Financial Strategy Task Force report, available to students through firstname.lastname@example.org, proposes options to reduce our deficit, including salary freezes, student enrollment and a merger of King’s services with Dalhousie. Here’s a breakdown of the report’s important points.
About 105 fewer students enrolled this year than expected—pretty significant for a small school. Team that up with much needed campus maintenance and government funding cuts, and you have a recipe for deficit.
The school is $1.1 million short – even after the across the board cuts put into place earlier this year – and the report predicts the loss of another $1 million next year if things don’t change. This is in addition to the approximately $2 million in lost revenue over the past two years, and the $5 million of long-term debt.
Fewer students means fewer teaching fellows – two fewer in the Foundation Year Program to be exact. Those would-be salaries come out to around $100,000. The university is also selling a house on Coburg Road, previously the dean’s residence, that is expected to contribute almost a half million dollars against the deficit. In spite of these measures, the deficit would still rest at just over $500,000.
One of the main ideas espoused by the report is a temporary salary freeze. This one-year freeze would be voluntary, and, according to the report, could ideally save over $200,000 this fiscal year.
Currently King’s faculty are not unionized. Only teaching fellows are unionized. However, King’s has rules that tie faculty salaries and benefits to Dalhousie Faculty Association’s collective agreement. A salary freeze would mean changing that policy.
The committee wants to keep salary increases in line with revenue increases. According to the report, salaries have grown 13 per cent in the last two years, while revenue has increased 2.5 per cent. The “management of the relationship between revenue and expenses,” the report says, “will continue to be required until fiscal stability is achieved,” particularly in regard to salaries.
Other measures the report looked at for this year included outsourcing services to Dalhousie, such as the registrar’s office duties. The report claims this will not save money, but will rather free up those employees to concentrate on student recruitment and retention. The report indicated that this could extend to other areas, potentially meaning the loss of King’s independent status.
The report also recommends approaching the government for support, although this source of revenue is unlikely. The report says that president Cooper should “clearly take the lead in government relations.” King’s currently gets over one third of its operating income from provincial grants.
Even if these immediate savings are enough to combat the shortfall, the report stresses the importance of becoming financially stable for next year and beyond. Increasing revenue, for this reason, is a top priority.
The report suggests increasing enrolment by about 100 students – generating an additional $1 million in revenue – and maintaining or growing that level.
It also suggests placing more emphasis on the branding of the school. The report mentions the use of social media for recruitment, as well as attempting to link humanities with career success.
To this end, the report calls for a review of the existing programs at King’s to assess their effectiveness in attracting and retaining students. A greater emphasis on current world issues, it says, will reinforce the idea that King’s is relevant in tomorrow’s workforce.
It also advocates for an expansion into related academic areas. This, according to the report, could even mean looking beyond the traditional Dalhousie/King’s relationship – such as offering FYP in concert with business or science programs elsewhere in the province.
Before King’s looks to expansion, the report suggests a review of King’s courses for cost-effectiveness. This means looking for courses that are too expensive to maintain, as well as ways to make other courses more cost-efficient. It is unclear whether expensive courses with low enrolment will be cut.
Outside of students and course offering, the report also recommends a greater reliance on government funding, as mentioned above. The report says the school should borrow – or ideally get a grant for – an additional $860K to upgrade the energy system. Such upgrades, the report says, could save the school between $100,000 and $150,000 per year.
And there you have it, the Long Term Financial Strategy Task Force report in a nutshell. What do you think about the report’s suggestions? How do you feel about outsourcing more operations to Dalhousie? What’s in store for the school? Share with us in the comments.