Kwantlen Polytechnic University has a $12-million “gap” and it has to, by law, balance its budget, KPU president and vice-chancellor Dr. Alan Davis said.
Davis told the Langley Advance Times the university has planned a $226-million balanced budget for 2019-20 that will be about $23 million larger than the year before.
“KPU’s budget for 2019-20 is projected to be larger … but with the university’s expenditures increasing faster than its revenue, there was a forecast gap of about $12 million, which we needed to close [in order] to deliver a balanced budget as required by legislation,” Davis explained.
There has been a search for savings across the university, Davis elaborated, including a “net reduction” in administration positions and a 2.2 per cent cut in the number of classes KPU offers.
Davis said the measures won’t affect the number of students attending classes.
“Through careful enrolment management, KPU intends to maintain existing student enrolment, using our resources to maximize the number of students we can serve and reduce waitlists for high demand programs.”
One of the budget measures involved the Langley-based music program, which was thrown into turmoil in February when the university announced admissions had been cancelled for the fall 2019, spring 2020, and summer 2020 intakes.
A student-led campaign against the cuts filled Douglas Park in Langley City with music on Sunday.
Between music program student performances that included a wind symphony orchestra, Motown band, brass quintet and jazz combo, different speakers took the stage to promote the program and decry budget-cutting that led the university to cancel first-year music admissions.
Kwantlen Music Students’ Association (KMSA) president Emma Dotto said the goal of the rally was “to make a noise” and shed some light on the issue.
“We’re going to fight as much as we can,” Dotto said.
Dotto drew cheers when she announced an online petition, the change.org “Reconsider Cuts to KPU’s Music Program,” had passed the 10,000 mark.
About 200 attended the rally, including Langley City Mayor Val van den Broek and her husband Rob, who are both Kwantlen graduates, but did not attend the music program.
“We’re here to support it, because music is a huge part of our community and it needs to continue,” the mayor said.
“We need to have opportunities for young kids coming up from high school to attend a local university for a music program,” she added.
Rob van den Broek, who plays in a band with some Kwantlen music students, called the program “invaluable to the community.”
Langley City councillor Rosemary Wallace said she was there because she believes in the arts.
“I just feel like the arts are the first to get cut,” Wallace said.
Stuart Martin, music director and conductor of the Surrey City Orchestra, who guided the orchestra performance, called the decision to freeze admissions “a shame.”
“The education we get [at KPU] is beyond amazing,” said Martin, who studied at KPU for two years.
Jane Hayes, chair of the KPU music department, said rally participants should write the Ministry of Advanced Education and demand increased funding for all post-secondary education across the province.
“Education can’t be about breaking even,” Hayes said.
Port Moody music teacher Andrew Clark said the program connects aspiring musicians to a larger community of musicians.
“Without this connection, we don’t have that community,” Clark said.
“It’s amazing that they would take something successful like that and cut it off at the knees,” Clark added.
Meanwhile, a message from the Kwantlen Faculty Association political action committee to all association members said instructors at the university “are largely being excluded” from the budgeting process.
“The only employee group at KPU seeing a reduction is faculty,” the statement said.
“This is not a “scarcity” budget, except for faculty members and programs.”