Notice some big changes around campus lately? Several universities and colleges across Canada have begun implementing resource optimization—a review designed to cut costs of administrative and academic support services.
CUPE members from York and other affected campuses have raised concerned that the new strategy could jeopardize their work, as well as access to quality, affordable, public post-secondary education.
And there are more of these projects on the way. On November 12, York University Vice-Presidents Patrick Monahan and Gary Brewer announced they’d be pursuing a “Process Re-engineering and Service Enhancement review” with PricewaterhouseCoopers.
The project, which the letter notes was “initially referred to as a budget resources review,” will begin with an initial review period of two to three months, after which a public report will be released. The following two phases could last up to three years and could see the university implementing many of the findings from the report.
The University of Calgary, the University of Manitoba, and the University of Ottawa have already started down the resource optimization path with a project called the Resource Optimization and Service Enhancement (ROSE) review, also conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers.
This ROSE has thorns
The driving forces behind the ROSE projects in Calgary and Manitoba are funding challenges and budget shortfalls. The project looks to cut costs and increase revenues. Part of increasing revenues means increasing fees to students for services.
A presentation on the progress on the review made to employee groups at the University of Manitoba mentioned some ”quick wins” they had already achieved, including the closure of the Learning Technology Centre and the Ombudsman Office and the contracting out of the Catering/Conference Service. The university is also examining opportunities to increase shared services.
The University of Calgary review resulted in significant staff reductions.
The review at the University of Ottawa includes looking at a hiring freeze, reducing pension costs and unpaid leaves.
The University of Manitoba and the University of Calgary have also begun implementing supply chain management, another important aspect of resource optimization. It involves all aspects of strategic management of materials, supplies and shared services, including purchasing, outsourcing, and logistics of all university services.
Guidelines on supply chain management have been developed for Ontario Broader Public Service Agencies.
The University of Manitoba is also engaged in a project called “Optimizing Academic Resources”. There are three areas of focus:
- Academic Synergies and Efficiencies
- Rules, Regulations and ‘Red Tape’; and
- Strategic Enrolment Management
This project has now been integrated with the Strategic Enrolment Management (SEM) theme of the project, a model where growth at a university is accomplished through managing recruitment and retention, impacting both academic programming and facilities.
Consulting firms across North America have recently cropped up to develop ”marketing plans” to assist post-secondary institutions with their recruitment objectives . Students are often recruited based on the likelihood of them graduating. This kind of recruitment strategy could create discriminatory recruitment practices that leave some communities reduced access to post-secondary education.
The University of Manitoba will play a lead role at a November 2010 SEM conference in Nashville.
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