University of Alberta president announces revision to budget plan

(Edmonton) Following two full days of meetings with the institution’s leadership team of deans and vice-presidents, University of Alberta President Indira Samarasekera announced on Friday a revised timeline for balancing the university’s budget.

“We recognize the urgency of the situation and agree that it is in the best interest of our university and the morale of our community to accelerate our original plan,” she said. “The next few months will not be easy, especially because several units and faculties already have experienced layoffs, program suspensions, position closures and other impacts from the cuts contained in the 2013-2014 budget.”

The new two-year plan seeks to identify another $56 million in reductions or new revenue for 2014-15. These reductions include a seven per cent decrease overall to core academic activities and an eight per cent reduction to services supporting the academic core.

Samarasekera noted that these reductions are on top of the $28 million that has already been cut from the current fiscal year.

“These are major cuts and every member of our community will feel the impact,” said Samarasekera. “We will continue to streamline administrative functions, reduce redundancies and seek new or untapped sources of revenue.”

She emphasized that the institution will maintain its commitment to excellence, but that there will be an impact felt by staff, faculty and students. That impact will be felt through the closure of programs and suspension of services. The cuts also mean limiting access to the U of A, which is the province’s oldest and largest institution. The university will nonetheless attempt to minimize the impact on student access and experience. 

“The decisions we make in the coming weeks must be focused on protecting the teaching, research and service activities that provide for an exceptional educational experience for our students,” said Samarasekera.