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Budget focuses on international student revenue and position creation

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The UFV 2018/19 draft budget was called a “good news budget” during its presentation on Wednesday, February 28, showing a 5.5 per cent revenue growth over the previous year. Concerns, however, were expressed during Friday’s UFV Senate meeting over plans focusing on international student tuition and student fees, and its use in the creation of new positions.

Betty Poettcker, chief financial officer and VP administration, said during Wednesday’s budget forum that one of the main drivers in this growth was the increasing number of international students at UFV. International student numbers have seen a steady increase over the last few years, with a 12 per cent increase in enrollment rate over last year, while domestic student numbers have been in a slow decline since 2013.

International student fees and tuition contributes $19.5M of the $55.2M in revenue from student tuition and student fees, and has increased by $2.6M this year.

“Part of the growth that we have been seeing is possibly due to the politics we’re seeing in the world as a whole,” Poettcker said. “Canada is seen right now as a very favourable place to come.”

Poettcker noted that there is risk associated with international student enrollment; changes in political climate, and potential natural disasters can affect enrollment rates.

“My concern is we, as an academic institution, should not count on the budget to go up and up and up,” said Teresa Arroliga-Piper, associate professor, modern languages, at the March 9 Senate meeting, after the presentation of the budget plan. “We are going to be opening more positions that, later on, we are not going to have any money to support.”

One of several new positions suggested under the 2018/19 budget would be in the international students department. This position would involve the recruitment and retainment of international students, and diversifying the international students UFV has.

It was suggested at the Senate meeting that the addition of counselling services, instead of recruitment, could better serve both international and domestic students with international backgrounds.

“My concern is putting more money into the students and faculty,” Arroliga-Piper said.

A new HR position is planned to be created in the area of organizational development to “build capacity in workforce and succession planning, performance management, change management, and proactive employee attraction and retention.”

Two new positions are planned to be created in information technology to address security concerns, and system design and complexity. A business transformation office will also be created, with the position focusing on the “identification, assessment, and coordination of business improvement activities.”

Investments in the continued development of agricultural programming and the Agricultural Centre of Excellence will be seen in the form of a new, unspecified position.

A coordinator for student wellness, training, and development has been budgeted for. The coordinator will be responsible for the development of extra-curricular education opportunities, and student safety and well-being.

In the area of Indigenization, there are plans to add an Indigenous educational developer, and a new position in academic support for the development of Indigenous content for new and existing programs.

Four new faculty positions will also be opening up. Two will be in the new computer science program, one in the area of mathematics with a focus on math for elementary students, and one in welding.

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