Cape Bre­ton Univer­sity forced to re­pay sim­i­lar pro­vin­cial fund­ing

Cape Breton Post - - Front Page - BY CHRIS­TIAN ROACH chris­tian.roach@cb­post.com

CBU un­happy over Aca­dia bailout.

Cape Bre­ton Univer­sity of­fi­cials are con­cerned and an­gry fol­low­ing the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment’s fi­nan­cial bailout of Aca­dia Univer­sity.

Last week it was made pub­lic that the Wolfville univer­sity re­ceived $24.5 mil­lion in in­cre­men­tal op­er­at­ing grants and loan for­give­ness from the province of Nova Sco­tia between 2011-17.

Pro­vin­cial of­fi­cials have said Aca­dia was fi­nan­cially dis­ad­van­taged through a change in the fund­ing for­mula for uni­ver­si­ties that was put in place in 2009 and that no other univer­sity had re­quested fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance from the province.

CBU board chair Robert Samp­son said Wed­nes­day both he and the ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee are up­set af­ter learn­ing about the bailout last week in a news re­lease.

“CBU spoke out loud and clear back in 2008 when the re­vised fund­ing for­mula was then in­tro­duced, stat­ing that it was sim­ply un­fair to smaller uni­ver­si­ties si­t­u­ated out­side of the metro (Hal­i­fax) area and driven al­most ex­clu­sively based on stu­dent en­rol­ment.”

In the last sev­eral years, CBU has had to cut jobs and close venues on cam­pus, in­clud­ing the Canada Games Com­plex, which is now be­ing man­aged by the Cape Bre­ton Re­gional Mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

Samp­son said the ef­fect on CBU was a loss close to Aca­dia’s of $6 mil­lion a year in pro­vin­cial op­er­at­ing fund­ing.

“Bot­tom line was, we were go­ing to have to go out and find five mil­lion bucks and Aca­dia had to find six mil­lion bucks,” said Samp­son. “I guess where we part com­pany with Aca­dia is that we went out and did it. We did lots of cuts and we’re prob­a­bly down 75-80 peo­ple and our stu­dent pop­u­la­tion has re­mained the same.”

In a news re­lease, Cape Bre­ton Univer­sity act­ing pres­i­dent Dale Keefe echoed Samp­son’s frus­tra­tion over the bailout re­ceived by Aca­dia Univer­sity.

“To the best of my knowl­edge, every univer­sity in Nova Sco­tia, and cer­tainly CBU, re­paid the pro­vin­cial loans is­sued to uni­ver­si­ties in 2011 un­der the Strate­gic Op­por­tu­ni­ties Fund In­cor­po­rated,” said Keefe.

“The gov­ern­ment was quite clear in re­quir­ing uni­ver­si­ties to re­pay those loans, yet now we learn it was for­given for Aca­dia alone. This loss of fund­ing and re­quire­ment to re­pay the SOFI loan has forced CBU to make many dif­fi­cult de­ci­sions over this pe­riod.”

Samp­son said CBU of­fi­cials are seek­ing an im­me­di­ate meet­ing with Labi Kousoulis, the pro­vin­cial min­is­ter of labour and ad­vanced ed­u­ca­tion, as well as MLAs Ge­off MacLel­lan and Derek Mom­bour­quette.

The Nova Sco­tia Labour and Ad­vanced Ed­u­ca­tion Depart­ment has not con­firmed the meet­ing, how­ever in a writ­ten state­ment on Wed­nes­day, Kousoulis said:

“We look at each univer­sity sep­a­rately. Each has its own unique set of op­por­tu­ni­ties and chal­lenges. No two uni­ver­si­ties are in the same sit­u­a­tion. We have been in dis­cus­sions with Cape Bre­ton Univer­sity and ad­vised them in June that they will re­ceive ad­di­tional op­er­a­tional fund­ing be­gin­ning in 2017/18,” said Kousoulis.

The min­is­ter went on to say he be­lieves the ad­di­tional fund­ing will help main­tain qual­ity and sus­tain­able uni­ver­si­ties for stu­dents and sup­port for their com­mu­ni­ties and lo­cal busi­nesses.

“My door is al­ways open to meet with univer­sity pres­i­dents.”

Also on Wed­nes­day, the CBU board of gover­nors ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee held a meet­ing to dis­cuss CBU’s next steps to deal with this mat­ter.

Samp­son said ul­ti­mately the de­ci­sion by the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment is dis­cour­ag­ing for Cape Bre­ton Univer­sity.

“It’s very up­set­ting when you learn that it ap­pears that you’ve been mis­treated,” said Samp­son. “Af­ter you rose to the oc­ca­sion and ac­cepted the gov­ern­ment for its word that there was no more (fund­ing) and that tough de­ci­sions had to be made, only to learn that didn’t nec­es­sar­ily ap­ply to ev­ery­one.”



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