Select Standing Committee on Finance 2014 Report:

A summary of the recommendations for public post-secondary

By Diane Walsh, Member-At-Large (Contact)

The Select Standing Committee on Finance is a bi-partisan committee that works together to make recommendations on the provincial budget. They conduct public consultations as part of this process, and they report back to government with recommendations.

As most of us are already aware, our KFA participates directly in the consultation process and makes presentations to the Select Standing Committee on Finance. This year, on October 14, Gillian Dearle, VP Grievances and Bob Davis, VP Negotiations, presented on behalf of the KFA (the full presentation can be found here), and they made four recommendations to the Committee. The recommendations were:

1)  A direct and on-going commitment of at least $22 million to support provincially-funded ESL programs delivered by BC’s post-secondary institutions.

2)  A revitalization of the student grant program which would help financially stressed students better cope with rising tuition fees and heavier debt loads.

3)  Student support services have suffered as a result of under-funding. The 2015 budget needs to provide funding support for those services as part of a broader effort by government to ensure that students are able to complete programs and degrees in a more timely way.

4)  And finally, the funding that post-secondary institutions receive needs to better respond to the cost pressures they face. Any proposal that alters already low levels of provincial funding needs to be reconsidered. A more sensible approach, in our view, is to engage in a thorough review of the funding formula so that regional inequities and core funding needs for the system as a whole are adequately addressed.

The Select Standing Committee, in their November 2014 report, has made a number of positive recommendations for public post-secondary education, including recommendations on operating grants, the funding formula, skills training, support for ESL programming for domestic students, and re-jigging the student grants and loans program.

The conclusion of the section on post-secondary education in the report (page 24) includes these paragraphs:

Regarding post-secondary education, the Committee makes recommendations to enhance operating and capital funding, as well as to review the funding formula and accounting standards that continue to restrict post-secondary institutions’ ability to self-finance select capital projects.

Two recommendations target programming. The Committee urges government to support provincially-funded ESL programs delivered by BC post-secondary institutions, and to work with institutions to develop a long-term and sustainable strategy for the delivery of ESL. To mitigate the looming skills shortage, it also recommends that the Province collaborate with industry, educational institutions, and First Nations to improve skills training initiatives, apprenticeships, and certification for new Canadians and foreign tradespeople.

Lastly, the Committee recommends three ways to improve student access and affordability. They include the establishment of a student grant program, a reduction of interest charged on BC student loans and review of eligibility requirements, and the creation of a graduate student fellowship program.

The specific recommendations (found on page 25) include:

27. Increase operating grants to post-secondary institutions to address unfunded cost pressure. 

30. Undertake a comprehensive review of the post-secondary funding formula so that regional inequities and core funding for the system as a whole are adequately addressed.

32. Provide adequate funding to support provincially-funded ESL programs delivered by BC post-secondary institutions, and work with post-secondary institutions to develop a long-term and sustainable strategy for the delivery of ESL.

33. Work with industry, educational institutions, and First Nations to continue to support and invest in skills training initiatives and improve access to technical training, to explore ways to enhance support for apprentices, and to improve the certification process for new Canadians and foreign tradespeople.

The full report of the Select Standing Committee is available here:

http://www.leg.bc.ca/cmt/40thParl/session-3/fgs/reports/PDF/Rpt-FGS-40-3-Report-on-Budget-2015-Consultations-2014-NOV-13.pdf

If you have any questions or comments on this article, please contact me here.

 

Teaching University?

Not According to Resource Allocation

By Diane Walsh, Member-At-Large (Contact)

There are many ways to determine where the priorities of an institution lie, and the directing of resources is one indicator of these priorities. From this perspective, it does not appear as if teaching and the provision of instruction is really a priority at Kwantlen.

Getting at this information is not particularly easy. The audited financial statements posted on the KPU website do not separate out salary as distinct from benefits, and do not separate out faculty salary from other salary. There is a data source for this information, however, the Statistics Canada-sponsored Canadian Association of Business Officers (CAUBO) reports. http://www.caubo.ca/

Kwantlen’s information was not reported prior to the year ending in 2009, but it is reported starting then and up to the most recent report which is the year ending in 2013.

This data shows that the ratio of faculty salary to all other salary at Kwantlen has been declining:

2014

 * The 2011 year report contains some odd figures. For example, there is instructional salary included in the column identified for “ranks,” but we have no ranks at Kwantlen.

These figures, taken overall, indicate proportional spending on faculty appears to be in decline at Kwantlen.  This change in spending, given that KPU is mandated to be a teaching-focused, is a puzzle.  

If we examine some of the changes in administrative salary, it may perhaps be less puzzling.

The FPSE has engaged in a research project to analyze “administrative density” at our member institutions of FPSE. This research looks at changes in total numbers of administrators, changes in salaries, and changes of total spending on administrators. The research uses salaries and other information posted in the public bodies’ reports, and the results for Kwantlen are illuminating.  

During the 10-year period covered by the research, March 31, 2002 and March 31st, 2012, the total number of excluded employee positions increased from 68 to 123.75, an 82% increase. Total pay for this group increased by a walloping 225% over the same period.

Pay increases for administrators are at least in part systemic in origin, in that they have been rising due to a ratcheting up effect on executive compensation. The desire to hire new executives who are “the best,” when coupled with a notion that higher pay equals better quality of performance of said executives, results in a relentless increase in executive compensation. The logic being applied is that if we offer average-or-better pay for administrative positions, we will be assured of hiring good quality executives.

This phenomena is explained well in a Vancouver Sun article (posted on Canada.com) on executive compensation Laura O’Neill, director of law and policy at the Shareholder Association for Research and Education, comments on this.

“Nobody is going to suggest that they have bottom-rung executives,” she said.

“So they will at least go for the middle ground of the peers. So in year one, you target the middle and all the peers target the middle and then the next year the middle is suddenly the bottom.”

It results in “a relentless climb upwards,” she said.

From: http://www.canada.com/life/Executive+compensation+firms+creeping+higher/6784512/story.html

To return to the FPSE administrative density research, during the 10-year period covered, March 31, 2002 to March 31st, 2012, the total proportion of administrators at KPU also increased during the period. This increased from 7.8% of the institution’s employees to 10.5% of the institution’s employees.

Looking at the top of the salary chart at KPU is just as informative. The 5 top-paid administrative positions at KPU have all seen sharp pay increases over the 2002 through 2012 period. Total salaries paid to the top 5 have risen by $292 737, an overall increase of 61.2%. The top salary, that of the president, rose from $137 954 to $189 754, a 37.5% increase.

This chart clearly illustrates a summary of these salary increases.

2014

In comparison, individual faculty salary at top of scale increased 8.9% during the same period ($78 729 in 2002 to $85 744 in 2012). During this period, according to the Bank of Canada inflation calculator (at http://www.bankofcanada.ca/rates/related/inflation-calculator/), inflation totalled 20.7%.

Looking at these figures, it is clear that teaching and faculty are not really the priority of KPU. If indeed teaching is the priority here, then the KPU administration must demonstrate this in concrete terms.

If you have any comments or questions about regularization or faculty status, please contact me.

 

Faculty Members and Governance at KPU: Improving Our Representation on Senate and Board of Governors

By Diane Walsh, Member-At-Large (Contact)

Governance at KPU is important to faculty members because decisions taken at Senate and Board affect all of us and our workplace. Some improvements to governance structures and processes would go a long way toward strengthening the participation of faculty members in governance at KPU. These include faculty having a majority on Senate; support for faculty members serving on Senate and the Board; all faculty members having representation on Senate; all faculty members having the legal right to run for Board.

Faculty should constitute a majority of Senate. Despite the importance of governance to faculty members, there are currently a number of vacant Faculty seats. One reason faculty may be less-than-eager to sign up for a Senate seat is that faculty representation on Senate is not what we could desire. In contrast with most university Senates in Canada, faculty members hold a minority of the voting seats in KPU’s Senate. We think that having a majority of the voting seats on Senate would give faculty a more meaningful voice in academic matters and this may make it more likely faculty members would be willing to devote their time and energy to serve on Senate.

Faculty serving on Senate should have necessary support. Another factor that may make participation more desirable would be the provision of real support for faculty members who step forward for these positions. Senate duties are not light, and expecting faculty members to take this on as yet another thing we do off the proverbial corners of our desks is unrealistic. We need meaningful support to do this.

All faculty members should have a voice. Another way faculty representation is problematic is that some faculty members are not represented in our current Senate structure. Faculty members in Learner Support, including librarians, counsellors, faculty members in the learning centres and faculty members in Services for Students with Disabilities, are left without a voice in Senate. We believe that all faculty members should have the right to elect representatives to Senate.

All faculty members should have the legal right to run for Board. The Board of Governors includes two elected seats for faculty representatives. In 2011, the BC government passed Bill 18, Advanced Education Statues Amendment Act. Part of that Act was the following:

49 Section 23 (1) is amended by adding the following paragraph:

(g) a person who is an employee of the university and who is a voting member of the executive body of, or an officer of, an academic or non-academic staff association of the university who has the responsibility, or joint responsibility with others, to

(i) negotiate with the board, on behalf of the academic or non-academic staff association of that university, the terms and conditions of service of members of that association, or

(ii) adjudicate disputes regarding members of the academic or non-academic staff association of that university.

What this means is that KFA Working Conditions or Bargaining Committee members or KFA Executive voting members or officers would be barred from serving on the Board of Governors. Although this has yet to be tested at Kwantlen, what it would mean is that a faculty member would have to choose whether to serve in one capacity or the other, barred from the right to associate with her or his Faculty Association in the capacity of choice. This seems to be in violation of the Charter’s guarantee of freedom of association (Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, part 2 (d)). We believe that faculty members should not have to choose in this way, and that no faculty members should be excluded from the right to stand for one of the two elected Board of Governors’ positions.

Faculty members realize how important governance is and how important our participation in governance is for the work we all do. These changes would make governance at KPU more truly meaningful for and inclusive of all faculty members.

If you have any comments or questions about regularization or faculty status, please contact me.