Response to UNB Webinar Presentation on the University’s Financial Position
AUNBT has read UNB management’s latest financial document and enlisted volunteers to listen to yesterday’s webinar. There is nothing new. The only real criticism of AUNBT’s position that the Administration offered is that we critique university finances using UNB’s independently-audited financial statements rather than the administration’s budget numbers.
Budgets reflect how the management wants to spend money in a given year. If it happens to be the Currie Centre, then the Currie Centre will be a priority in the budget. If administration wants to hire 84 more administrators and 48 fewer academic staff, then that is what the budget will reflect. Budgets reflect choices, and the fact that fair salaries and workload for academic staff are not budgeted for is a reflection of administration values and priorities.
AUNBT’s analysis of the UNB audited financial statements has shown clearly that the university was not and is not in the dire financial straits that the administration has claimed over the past few years to justify shrinking program offerings, increasing faculty workload, and refusing to provide research resources. The administration has projected shortfalls and has starved the Operating Fund by allocating what would otherwise be surplus to “internally restricted” funds, aka discretionary reserves. Our repeated attempts to get information on how the money was utilized in each of those restricted accounts has resulted in varying excuses, such as: “it will be expensive to get the information”, “it would take too long to track that”, and “we do not fully know”.
Contrary to UNB’s surmise, AUNBT has never suggested that salary adjustments could be funded by ANY fund. What AUNBT is ascertaining is that internally-restricted funds are for purposes that reflect choices. We also point out that fair wages for those who carry out the core mission of a university do not seem to be one of those choices.
Our analysis is restricted to published information. If university management is willing to open up its books we are eager to do a value-for-money audit on various internally-restricted accounts. We would begin with “risk management”.