The University of Winnipeg



Reaction To 2013 Manitoba Provincial Budget

Statement by Dr. Lloyd Axworthy
President and Vice-Chancellor, University of Winnipeg
April 16, 2013

We are disappointed but not surprised that the provincial government has revoked its commitment to provide stable operating grants of 5% for three years. We understand the Manitoba flood of 2011 put increased fiscal pressure on the province.

However, slashing the committed increase to our operating grant in half, while at the same time insisting through legislation that tuition rates remain well below the Canadian average (only Quebec has lower tuition rates), increasingly hobbles our ability to meet the multiple needs of the diverse student body we serve.

Today’s announcement compounds the inequity existing within the Manitoba post-secondary system. Historically, we receive much less from the province than either the University of Manitoba or the University of Brandon. Our provincial grant in 2010 was the equivalent of $7,600 per student, whereas Brandon University and the University of Manitoba each received almost double that amount at about $14,000 per student. The 2013 MacLean’s Magazine survey identified that the University of Winnipeg’s expenditure per student was the second lowest of 19 primarily undergraduate universities surveyed across the country, significantly lower than any of our reasonable comparators. We have been making do with less for a long time.

Given the squeeze on the traditional government funding model, we must be given the flexibility to attract new revenues through private sector and innovative partnerships, commercialization of research, fundraising and other sources.  In the weeks and months ahead, we look forward to continued dialogue with the province to bring the costs of delivering a high quality education in line with revenue expectations. I will be asking the province to give us more flexibility both in the choice of courses and the delivery of curriculum, more autonomy in decision making and the capacity to employ an entrepreneurial approach to funding our activities so we may derive revenue from a variety of sources.

Today’s provincial budget means UWinnipeg must eliminate another $1.5 million from operations or be given the flexibility to raise additional revenues including tuition and ancillary fees.  We have already reduced administrative positions and salaries for a saving of $400,000 and have pursued an aggressive vacancy management strategy for several years.  We will continue to look for efficiencies by integrating student services and further streamlining administrative functions.

The University of Winnipeg’s role in particular has broadened. We are partners in downtown renewal, attracting more than $150 million in new development to the downtown and West End communities in the last eight years.  We have created strong community outreach, education and support programs that encourage and support non-traditional students so they may thrive and achieve personal and economic success, including adult learners, First Nations, Metis and Inuit students, inner city youth, war-affected youth and new immigrants, who have been arriving in Manitoba by the tens of thousands in the past decade. The lion’s share of these new UWinnipeg programs have been funded through assertive fundraising in the private sector. Enrolment at the University of Winnipeg has increased by 55% over the past twelve years as we become our city’s community university.

The need for a well-educated and flexible generation of employees, entrepreneurs, community builders and leaders has never been more important to the future health of our city and province. Moving forward, we urge the provincial government to renew its commitment to investing in Manitobans who are seeking a higher education so they can be full participants in developing our economy.

See Dr. Axworthy’s article printed by the Winnipeg Free Press on April 9, 2013