STU refuses students' union funding offer to cut deficit

The St. Thomas University Students' Union says the administration has turned down a $50,000 donation that was intended to help save scholarships and trim the university's deficit.

St. Thomas University Students' Union offered $50K to save scholarships

The St. Thomas University Students’ Union says the administration has turned down a donation of $50,000 that was intended to help save scholarships.

A release from the group says members voted on Monday to make the one-time donation to alleviate the university’s deficit and prevent cuts to scholarships for students.

But the cash was contingent on the university’s president and vice presidents taking a four per cent pay cut.

Dawn Russell, the president and vice-chancellor of St. Thomas University, earns between $200,000 and $225,00 a year, which is the lowest of the province's four publicly-funded universities.

STU has two vice-presidents who earn $150,000 to $174,999.

The problem with the union's offer was that it came with strings attached, said Jeffery Carleton, the university's communications director.

"It's just not appropriate. You don't take donations and tie them to executive pay," he said.

"It makes no absolutely no sense and it's really not the issue we are trying to address."

The students’ union says the pay cut would have saved the university between $25,000 and $30,000.

It said the university declined the offer in an email on Wednesday morning and has refused to meet with the union on the issue.

"The fact that the university has such a large projected deficit represents a significant failure on their part. As a Union, we’re willing to do our part to make sure that this does not fall back on students, but we can’t be expected to be the only ones making sacrifices," said John Hoben, the president of the students’ union, in a statement.

The small liberal arts university in Fredericton is expecting a $600,000 shortfall if it doesn’t raise additional revenue.

Carleton told CBC News STU's budget — and any changes to tuition or scholarships — will be presented within weeks to the university's board of governors for a final decision.

The university has already said tuition will be going up by $150, which is the cap imposed by the provincial government.

But St. Thomas University has indicated the tuition increase could be larger.

Hoben said earlier this month that the university’s scenarios included increases of between $1,100 and $1,400 over the next few years.