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September 28, 2000 Concordia holding its own in finances




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 Ministry’s 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 year’s 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, Concordia’s 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 university’s 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 Ministry’s approach by several years — and he hopes that this work and the costs involved are recognized.

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 faculty members.

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.









Copyright 2000, Concordia University