A University of Ottawa report proposing $25 million in cuts has the campus community up in arms.
The 75-page “Resource Optimization” report was prepared by a university advisory committee mandated to find an across-the-board 5 per cent in savings for the upcoming 2010–11 fiscal year.
Micheline Lessard, president of the Association of Professors of the University of Ottawa, said the plans outlined in the report “in no way constitute optimization” and are a step in the wrong direction.
“There’s been intense backlash against the proposals,” Lessard said. “Rather than engaging the real stakeholders on campus — that is, faculty, students and staff — in a respectful, meaningful and participatory way, the administration spent at least $160,000 on external consultants for advice.”
The campus unions have joined forces in opposing the cuts. Students have started an online petition and a Facebook group called “Optimize Education.” Campus rallies and days of action are planned next.
According to APUO’s analysis of the report, two-thirds of the proposed cuts are coming from teaching, research and learning-related services, while only a 13 per cent cost cut is recommended from the central administration’s budget, which saw more than a 30 per cent increase last year, Lessard noted.
“These cuts, if implemented, will greatly reduce the quality of education at the University of Ottawa,” said Lessard. “In essence it means fewer professors, less course offerings and larger class sizes. It is disingenuous to talk about an ‘optimization of resources’ as the report claims will happen.”
The report also calls for a reduction in bursaries, scholarships and teaching assistantships of almost $5 million.
“One of the stated aims of the exercise was to find ways to enhance the student experience,” Lessard said. “But it’s incomprehensible how cutting deeply into direct student support will achieve that goal.”
The analysis also shows administration expenditures jumped an average of 40 per cent between 2003 and 2009, in comparison to an average increase of 4 per cent in overall university expenditures.
The university’s board of governors will vote on the 2010–11 budget at the end of April.