Nfld. & Labrador

Memorial University VP blasts budget cuts in scathing blog post

"The spin from government about Memorial having received enough to keep a tuition freeze is intolerable," writes Noreen Golfman.

Noreen Golfman says there isn't enough money to keep tuition freeze

Noreen Golfman, seen here in a file photo, has dire warnings for the future of the university in the wake of budget cuts. (CBC)

In a no-holds-barred blog post, Memorial University Provost and VP Noreen Golfman is taking aim at the Liberal government's budget cuts to the post-secondary institution.

"No matter what you hear government officials are saying — Memorial is getting hit big time," wrote Golfman, painting a bleak picture of a crumbling campus.

"And no, government did not give us enough to cover a continuing tuition freeze or to manage this plant, which is falling apart in almost every nook and corner."

In its April 14 budget, the province cut $8-million from the university's operational grant, a loss that comes on the heels of budget cuts the year before.

Calling the budget a "monster of enforced attrition and reduction," Golfman's tone is a marked departure from that of MUN President Gary Kachanoski. who spoke with CBC's On the Go on budget day.

"We are, and need to be, aligned with the government's objectives in their budget... and to do our part with what is a pretty significant and tough fiscal situation for the province," Kachanoski said.

Golfman says tuition fees, academic programs, staff, and infrastructure are all vulnerable in an era of cost constraints. (Laura Howells/CBC)

Tough math

Calling the government spin "intolerable," Golfman's blog breaks down the tough math behind MUN's financial woes.

Golfman said the province also plans to cut $10.6-million a year from the university for the next three years, which, along with salary attrition, means the university will have to operate on $25-million less by the 2019-2020 academic year.

"That's a hell of a lot bigger than a certain Minister claimed," Golfman wrote, pointing the finger at the Minister of Advanced Education and Skills, Gerry Byrne.

I am desperately seeking a silver lining.- MUN VP Noreen Golfman

Golfman said that figure also doesn't include the extra $2-million the university will pay annually thanks to the HST hike.

"No one I talk to can see how the university can absorb $25-million worth of cuts, on top of last year's hit, without serious adjustments to one or all of the following: tuition fees, academic programs, staff, quality of teaching, infrastructure plan, student services," she wrote.

It is up to MUN's administration to decide whether to lift the long-standing freeze on tuition.

​Golfman concluded her post asking for a ray of hope, for both the province and its post-secondary education.

"I am desperately seeking a silver lining. Know the facts. Challenge the misconceptions and spin. Put students first."

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