The University of Western Ontario Faculty Association (UWOFA) has released a piercing critique of Western’s budgeting practices. Titled “Every budget is a choice,” the report highlights how Western’s administration puts the accumulation of assets ahead of funding core activities, such as teaching.
“Western is not poor,” said UWOFA president Alison Hearn. “The resources are there to support the university’s core mission of teaching and research. The board of governors and senior administration can choose to do so if they wish.”
UWOFA reveals that Western is in good financial shape, with large surpluses ($202 million in 2009) and substantial reserves. There is thus little justification for departmental budget cuts, a wage freeze, or the elimination of academic staff positions. Western could invest more in its core activities – teaching and research – but has simply decided not to do so. UWOFA is calling for a rebalancing of priorities away from unnecessary penny pinching, and towards the educational mission of the university.
The UWOFA report is a great example of the power in analyzing university budgets in detail. OCUFA supports this work through its University Finance Committee.