by Laurie Zack
The Board of Governors and University Senate have been given an overview
of how Concordia is faring with regard to the new funding formula, our
intensive work on academic planning, and the increased competition among
universities for faculty and resources.
According to the new formula, the Education Ministrys calculation
(1999 figures) of the real cost of teaching, administration and space,
CFO Larry English said that Concordia has held its own in terms of its
expected share of the Quebec university network budget.
We will likely receive 8.8 or 8.9 per cent of the total university funds
from the Ministry (MEQ). This includes some $4.8 million in MEQ-targeted
funds for meeting a combination of new and revised MEQ priorities. These
targeted funds are guaranteed until 2002-03, but are not available for
financing general operations. Overall, our share of university funds amounts
to about $122 million, well above last years total of $109 million.
English pointed out, however, that our percentage of total network FTEs
(full-time-equivalency students, the basis of funding) has risen to 9.7
per cent, well above our share of the budget allocation.
Both English and Provost Jack Lightstone pointed out some inconsistencies
in government policy that directly affect our bottom line. Although Concordia
has encouraged innovative programs that respond to the needs of high-tech
areas like information and digital technology (including cinema), the
funding formula does not account for the high cost of equipment and infrastructure
to support this initiative.
Likewise, Concordias historic strength in delivering much-needed
retraining and retooling of skills through post-graduate certificate and
diploma programs, a much-vaunted government priority, is not backed up
with sufficient funding. At the moment, the government continues to float
the notion of funding these programs at the lowest weighting category,
far below the real cost of delivering them.
On the positive side, Lightstone expressed optimism that the performance
contract proposed by the Education Ministry would be based on the universitys
own definition of its mission and targets as agreed upon in consultation
with the Ministry, and not be imposed by them. He noted, in fact, that
our mission and academic planning work are perfectly in keeping with priorities
set out by the Ministry even preceding the Ministrys approach
by several years and he hopes that this work and the costs involved
Rector Frederick Lowy underlined the challenge of keeping our star
professors in the face of increased competition, particularly from higher
salaries offered elsewhere in Canada, and hiring 150 new tenure-track
While he praised the contribution of part-time faculty, Lowy noted that
the proportion of full-time professors to students has dropped from 1/20
to 1/30 over the past five years, and our proportion of 40 per cent full-time
to 60 per cent part-time teachers is approaching the opposite of what
the ratio should be in a healthy university environment.