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University of Waterloo -- Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
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Friday, January 24, 1997

First of all, it's payday

Faculty members and most staff get paid today -- a week earlier than the usual "last Friday of the month", because the December payday was advanced on account of Christmas. Next payday: back to normal at February 28.

Staff in information systems and technology are having a professional development seminar this morning, in which Roger Watt, manager of campus networks, will speak on "Provisioning the campus network for the 'next generation' Internet". Among the issues: connections between UW and other Canadian computer networks on the one hand, and the planned new Internet 2 in the United States, on the other.

Tomorrow is a date beloved of Scots and tartan-wannabes around the world: it's Robbie Burns Day, 238th birthday of poet Robbie Burns. Addressing the haggis would not be out of place. Sunday, Green Bay and New England will meet in football's Super Bowl XXXI, as all the world apparently knows and cares.

On a more sober note, the funeral service for J. Page R. Wadsworth, UW's chancellor emeritus (who died Tuesday, not Monday as I wrongly said in yesterday's Bulletin) will be held at 11:00 this morning at St. Paul's Anglican Church on Bloor Street East in Toronto.

And the long-awaited draft plan for UW, presented by the Commission on Institutional Planning, is to be released Monday, at an 8:30 a.m. meeting of the senate long-range planning committee (in Needles Hall room 3001).

Phones go off tonight

UW telephone service will go dead at 7:00 tonight for somewhere between an hour and four hours, depending on how long it takes technicians to disconnect the old "switch" and cables and connect the new hardware and T1 lines in their place. The cutover is part of the replacement of UW's phone system, a project that will bring new phones and new services to most desks.

While the university phone system is out of commission this evening, UW police can be reached at 886-3538 from pay phones, residence phones (they're not part of the UW system) and off-campus phones.

Systems changes all around

The telephone conversion is one of five major projects being carried on under the general rubric of Business 1999, all managed by Jay Black, associate provost (information systems and technology). A report on those projects took up most of the time at yesterday afternoon's meeting of UW department heads.

Besides telephones, these are the four projects:

Tuition fee income drops $1 million

Enrolment that's lower than expected is a big reason for UW's latest round of financial problems, the senate finance committee was told yesterday. Revenue from tuition fees was budgeted at $50,144,000 but is now expected to be only $49,150,000 in the 1996-97 year.

On-campus undergraduate enrolment is stable, and in fact the number of full-time first-year students last September was a hair above the target (3,717, compared to a target of 3,702). The problem is in two main areas.

First, "approximately one-third of the revenue shortfall in tuition is accounted for by international students," said Bob Truman, director of institutional analysis and planning. The number of foreign students is falling, and provost Jim Kalbfleisch pointed to "a great tuition-slashing competition" across Ontario since the government removed its controls on international student fees; UW now has fees "among the highest in the province" for foreign students. "We thought we had them," Truman said, "and either they didn't show up, or they showed up and changed status," becoming Canadian residents who pay much lower fees. Historically, about one in 15 UW students is from outside Canada.

Second, there's been a big drop in the number of part-time and, especially, distance education (correspondence) students, who account for about 10 per cent of tuition fee revenue. The drop is Canada-wide and possibly even world-wide, yesterday's meeting was told; one committee member commented that while correspondence enrolment at UW has dropped about 15 per cent, another Canadian university has seen a 40 per cent drop.

Why the drop in the number of people signing up for university courses by correspondence? "It used to be that if you upgraded your education you could get a salary increase," said Carolyn Hansson, vice-president (university research). "That is no longer true."

Gary Waller, associate provost (academic and student affairs), said UW is planning new marketing efforts to attract distance education students, "and we're working also to upgrade the courses internally. We're responding, but it takes time."

Several speakers pointed to difficulties in getting faculty members to teach by correspondence at all. The department of health studies and gerontology recently dropped its distance education offerings entirely, said Bob Norman, dean of applied health sciences, who lamented that "I can't motivate faculty" to keep correspondence courses going. The dean of engineering, David Burns, took issue with that, pointing to the size of "some faculties" -- probably meaning arts: "The incentive is that those faculty positions were put there to do distance education teaching!"

Maybe, said Kalbfleisch, it's time for UW to take a new look at the formula by which it distributes funds among the six faculties. Short-term changes in the amount of teaching done have little, if any, effect on faculties' budgets.

So how's the budget stand?

The drop in fee income, plus salary increases that are costing about $3 million, led the provost to impose a 1.5 per cent budget cut on departments this year, saving $1,850,000 in spending. Even so, a deficit of $685,000 is now expected.

The 1.5 per cent cut is supposed to be temporary, but the budget gap doesn't go away when the new fiscal year begins on May 1. With other cost increases and the disappearance of some one-time income this year, not to mention 1997 salary increases, UW could be looking at a budget problem of $9 million or more for 1997-98, Kalbfleisch said. "Nine million dollars is a lot of money!"

But there are many unknowns about funding for the coming year, starting with tuition fee levels. An increase, either ordered by the government or permitted if fees are "deregulated", could help to cover that $9 million shortfall. UW also holds out some hope for new income if the provincial government chooses to put more millions into its "research infrastructure" budget, as it was urged to do by the recent Smith report on post-secondary education.

A budget for 1997-98 won't be ready for the board of governors before June, Kalbfleisch predicted.

And still more happenings

Getting an early start on Chinese new year, the Vietnamese Student Association will hold a semi-formal dinner Saturday night at a Kitchener restaurant.

The "Banff Festival of Mountain Films" comes to the Humanities Theatre on Saturday night.

Home sports events: the hockey Warriors host Windsor at the Columbia Icefield Sunday afternoon at 2; the Athena and Warrior curling teams host the West Sectional on Saturday and Sunday; the volleyball Athenas host McMaster at 8:00 tonight in the PAC. The basketball teams, both men and women, will be playing at Laurier on Saturday afternoon.


January 24, 1992: Provost Alan George asks staff and faculty members to agree to a one-year pay freeze because of a government squeeze on university funding.

January 25, 1958: UW announces the purchase of 200 acres of land for a new campus. January 25, 1977: Stress researcher Hans Selye gives the second of two addresses in the Humanities Theatre as the year's Hagey Lecturer.

Editor of the Daily Bulletin: Chris Redmond
Information and Public Affairs, University of Waterloo
credmond@watserv1.uwaterloo.ca -- (519) 888-4567 ext. 3004
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