New Brunswick

University of Moncton argues for funding increase in budget

The president of the University of Moncton is calling on the Gallant government to increase funding for universities in New Brunswick when it tables its budget next week.

Raymond Théberge says New Brunswick universities in a 'precarious' situation

Université de Moncton president Raymond Théberge argues the future of New Brunswick depends on university research and says that is one reason the Gallant government should increase funding for post-secondary education in the upcoming budget. (CBC)

The president of the University or Moncton is calling on the Gallant government to increase funding for universities in New Brunswick when it tables its budget next week. 

Raymond Théberge says the same funding formula has been in place since 1979, and last year his received approximately $90 million from provincial taxpayers.

"Basically our budget is 70 per cent funding from government, 30 per cent from enrolments and therefore the impact of dropping enrolments is significant but not as significant as the drop in funding from government," Théberge said in an interview on Information Morning Moncton.

"It must be recognized that the Université de Moncton is currently receiving inadequate funding from the provincial government."

Post-secondary education is one of the areas identified in the government's Choices document as an area where between $15 million and $45 million could be saved by changing funding formulas for the four main public universities and two colleges.

"That's one thing we keep forgetting is the importance of research at the universities... the future of New Brunswick will be tied to innovation, it will be tied to what research can produce- Raymond Théberge

The Moncton university has made significant cuts in the past year, reducing its operating budget by 3.8 per cent through cuts to administration, he said.

Théberge warns that without an increase in contributions from the province and a lifting of the tuition fee freeze, New Brunswick universities will be in "a precarious financial situation."

Research and innovation key to future of N.B.

Théberge worries that post-secondary education in New Brunswick will be degraded and predicts cuts to student services will come next.

"We have to provide student services in the area of mental health, in the area of tutoring, mentoring, all those kinds of things because there's an expectation now that when students come to university they will be provided with these kinds of services."
Théberge says enrolment is down at Université de Moncton and while the school is recruiting internationally to make up for that, provincial government funding, which represents about 70 per cent of the budget, is more critical. (CBC)

The University of Moncton is the only francophone university in the province and Théberge says the school does receive a "small grant" as a result.

"But we do not get what I would say is substantially favourable compensation from the province."

He argues that as the only francophone institution, the university must serve the entire province and offer as many programs as possible.

"Université de Moncton has transformed Acadie. In order to carry out our mission we need adequate funding."

Théberge says cutting funding to universities would be a big mistake, especially given the importance of research which he believes will drive the future of the province even more than natural resources.

"That's one thing we keep forgetting is the importance of research at the universities... the future of New Brunswick will be tied to innovation, it will be tied to what research can produce."

In the Choices document the province suggests a performance-based funding model for universities which would allow government to have "graduates aligned to provincial priorities," and to have "corresponding remuneration for institutional performance."

According to the document, "a model that focuses on performance outcomes would deliver value and accountability, while allowing institutions to manage their operations."

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