The University’s Destructive Budget Model

Categories: Ability to Pay, Bargaining, Bargaining Updates 2014, UBC Budget

By far and away the largest single complaint we received from members while we prepared for bargaining concerned UBC’s budget model. Members are justifiably unhappy about a budget model in which the departments and Faculties are not treated as central to the core mission of the University. The comment “I am particularly concerned about the apparent over-allocation of University funds to administrative positions/costs, and a concomitant reduction of funds available to support scholarly activity and investment in hiring faculty” sums up the comments of many, many members. Repeatedly members asked us to attempt to force the University to fund departments properly. Several members pointed out something that, quite frankly had not occurred to us. They noted that because the costs of the equity settlement were downloaded onto departments, those departments that were predominantly women were most badly affected. Clever, that. The University admits it has been systematically discriminating against women faculty but its response has been most damaging to female-dominated departments by not directly funding the equity settlement. We have also heard repeated complaints that the University did not fund the salary settlement for faculty. The Central Administration does not seem to plan its budget around salary settlements, which many faculty members find troubling.

Although this issue does not fit easily into Collective Agreement language, and we have not attempted to do so in this round, the Association is extremely concerned with the destructive effects of the University’s budget model. At this stage we strongly urge members, and particularly Heads, not to accept this budget model as appropriate and to push back on the Deans. We also encourage the Deans to push back against central administration. The current approach to budgeting is so wrongheaded and so destructive that it threatens the very integrity of the institution. It is starving those areas of the University that are its fundamental raison d’etre. While the property development side and the other non-academic sides of the University are undoubtedly important, at the end of the day it is the teaching and scholarly activity side that must remain the core business of the University and the budget model must reflect that.