28 Feb 20: SAITNow--Government funding and budget implications

28 Feb 20: SAITNow--Government funding and budget implications

The following article appeared on SAITNow (an internal staff intranet) after SAIT President Dr. David Ross announced the elimination of 230 staff positions.

In October 2019, the Government of Alberta announced funding changes and budgetary cuts in the post-secondary sector. As operating costs rise every year due to inflation, even maintained funding from the government is an effective cut to SAIT’s budget.

2019 budget overview

  • Reductions in operating grants to all post-secondaries in Alberta. On average 5% reduction annually for four years beginning 2019/20.
  • Reductions in capital funding across the entire public sector.
  • Introduction of a new funding model based on determined metrics and KPIs for each post-secondary. Investment Agreements will be developed by the spring of 2020 that will outline targets and funding model in more detail for each institution.
  • Lift of the five-year tuition freeze that was in place — allowing institutions to increase program tuition, with no institution increasing fees overall by more than 7%.

2019 budget implications — by the numbers for SAIT

20%overall expected cut to our grant funding over the next four years
$9M5% cut for 2019/20, as well as a reduction in apprenticeship seats
$3Minitial capital funding reduction — estimated at $7M over four years
$2.5Mtechnology and cloud computing annual costs
$7Mannual inflation costs
$30Mbudget gap for 2019/20 and 2020/21

2020 budget overview

SAIT is reviewing the newly released 2020 Government of Alberta provincial budget. You can find more information on the Government of Alberta’s website.

Process and timeline

Because of the provincial government’s funding reductions, SAIT was forced to make some hard decisions, including the decision to eliminate approximately 230 positions.

Of the 230 positions, approximately:

  • 80 are vacancies that won’t be replaced
  • 34% are APT and management positions
  • 42% are AUPE positions
  • 24% are SAFA positions.

Voluntary departures will be solicited first from each union group, AUPE and SAFA, where possible to support the reductions. Permanent AUPE and SAFA employees who would like to take this opportunity to make a career transition will be able to consult with Employee Services about their options.

The timeline for position abolishment takes into account program and classroom requirements, as well as the requirements of each union’s collective agreement.

  • beginning of March: impacted AUPE casual and temporary, impacted APT and management
  • March: voluntary departure solicited within AUPE permanent staff
  • early April: impacted permanent AUPE
  • late April: impacted casual, temporary SAFA
  • May: voluntary departure solicited within SAFA permanent staff
  • mid-May: impacted permanent SAFA

AUPE and SAFA employees should review their applicable collective agreement for more detail on the process.

Resources

Resources are available to help you through this difficult time. If you have any questions specific to your position or how the changes will affect your workload, you can speak with your supervisor or dedicated HR advisor.

Resources:

Those who have their positions eliminated may be dealing with:

  • loss of income and benefits
  • loss of identity
  • embarrassment
  • grief

Those in their positions may be feeling:

  • “Why them not me?”
  • grief
  • anger toward leaders
  • additional workload
  • disengagement
  • risk aversion

We recognize this process will be tough as it continues over the weeks and months ahead. Take the time you need to process the change and talk with your colleagues or supervisor. Your mental health is important.

If you feel comfortable doing so, reach out and offer support to your friends and colleagues.

Strategic direction

Based on these reductions, both financial and employee-based, SAIT more than ever must reinforce its strategy to be grounded in sustainable growth — maintaining our relationship with government, while developing and growing independent revenue streams that will support student success, as well as programming, technology and business growth.

We know we can’t continue doing the same work, the same way after losing 230 employees. We will need to change the way we work and the work we do. The new 2020-2025 Strategic Plan, rolling out in the next few months, will help guide priorities moving forward.

As part of our growth plan, we are focusing on revenue areas and programs that meet the future needs of learners and industry:

  • Continuing Education and Professional Studies
  • Corporate Training Solutions and International Projects development
  • strategic enrolment growth
  • fundraising initiatives
  • adjustments to tuition and student fees

It is important to note the majority of donor gifts are designated to specific projects at the donor’s request — things like: capital projects, student awards, scholarships or program development. For example, the recent Bissett gift of $30M was designated by the donor in consultation with SAIT to support the creation of a School of Advanced Digital Technology.

In response to the UCP government’s public policy change and removal of the five-year provincial tuition freeze — SAIT has reviewed its tuition fees in comparison to local, national and international programs and has determined adjustments across the majority of its programs for both domestic and international tuition.

An increase in tuition cost ensures programs, equipment and instruction remain relevant, so students are job-ready at graduation and their credential is valued among the best.

Tuition adjustments will be effective for all credit programming for the 2020/21 academic year, effective July 1, 2020. The new fees, as approved by SAIT’s Board of Governors are posted on sait.ca.

As well, SAIT is introducing two new student fees — a Student Support fee and a Student Technology fee. Similar to tuition increases, the new fees will be effective for the 2020/21 academic year and the costs will be phased in, as recommended in consultation with Saitsa, over three years at $50, $75, and $100 per fee, per semester. READ MORE