News / Calgary

University of Calgary cutting hundreds of student positions

The University of Calgary will accept 200 fewer students in the Faculty of Arts this fall as a result of provincial budget cuts, the university announced Wednesday.

At roughly 7,200 students, arts enrolment is “at an all-time high, probably well above where it should be,” provost and vice-president academic Dru Marshall said at a university town hall meeting.

The decision was part of the university's overall plan to reduce expenses by $27.75 million in the wake of a 7.3-per-cent cut to post-secondary funding in the 2013 Alberta budget.

The university also plans to use $11.85 million in "contingencies" and find $1.1-million in new revenue to balance its roughly $1.2-billion annual budget, said Jake Gebert, vice-president finance and services.

In addition, 30 fewer nursing students and 15 fewer medical students will be accepted this fall, but university president Elizabeth Cannon said that’s due the expiration of fixed-term funding that had been used to boost enrolment, and not related to the provincial budget.

The university also plans to eliminate 20 programs that had minimal to no enrolment for the past seven years, but wouldn’t reveal Wednesday specifically which programs they were.

"Any student that is in such a program obviously would be guaranteed to be able to finish," Cannon said.

University of Calgary Students’ Union vice-president external Conner Brown had mixed feelings about the arts cuts.

“Obviously we’re disappointed that they’re going to reduce enrolment,” he said. “But at the same time we’re happy that they have prioritized current students.”

Marshall said the budget-balancing decisions were “difficult” but warned the 2014/15 budget will be an even greater challenge.

"The real pain is going to come next year, when we have to look probably for another $20 to $25 million, as we balance the books with increasing costs while having a stable budget with zero-per-cent increase," she said.

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