Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Putting Lipstick on a Pig, Academic Budget-Style

McGill didn't have to fire people to get within the budget parameters set by Quebec. Woot!  I guess we can declare victory, eh?  Um, not so much.  The Voluntary Retirement Program worked well to meet the $43.5 million cut in the budget, but that is only good news if you think that these 250 people were not really doing that much.  That they were entirely extraneous or made redundant by technological improvements. 

Me, I am not so sure.  My last couple of years at McGill saw significant cuts that were making matters worse for the students, for faculty and for administration.  Fewer course offerings, more service heaped on fewer people, department staffs being cut back so that offices have shorter hours and serve less...  And that was before the last couple of rounds of cuts. 

There are a lot of reasons why I left McGill, but one was that I thought its future was mighty bleak (Ontario is not terrific but it ain't this).  I knew the PQ would not be kind because of its ideological hostility that which McGill is--English and excellent.  The folks in the party have long complained about how disproportionate higher ed funding in Quebec is since there are so few Anglophones.  Which implies that McGill (and Concordia and Bishops) should be cut.   I also guessed that the PQ would cut the tuition increases and would otherwise mismanage things.  So, yes, there is this victory that the budget has been cut significantly without firing people, but I would guess that there is now a freeze on hiring. Which means that there will be fewer people around to do the work that more people used to do. 

McGill is still a great deal for undergrads as the tuition is dirt cheap, but one of these days you will get what you pay for--less and less.  I worry about the friends I left behind--faculty and staff--who are now expected to worker harder and harder.  Sure, they can say work smarter, not harder, but that only works for my defense in ultimate--it is no way to run a resource deprived educational institution.

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