Universities and Colleges offer good value for taxpayers
By Eddy Campbell, President of UNB
Our post-secondary institutions exist to transform lives, to transmit and create knowledge, and to create prosperity. With these roles comes the important responsibility to make good and effective use of the support offered by the citizens of New Brunswick through their government, not to mention the fees paid by our students and the contributions of our many supporters and donors.
What are we doing to earn their trust?
Our post-secondary institutions are drawn to efficiency for a variety of good reasons, not least because it provides its own reward. More efficient organizations have the means to offer greater reach, richer experiences, deeper learning, and more and better discoveries. Great results earn long-term support from our citizens and government, who value us for what we do, not what we are.
Institutions like UNB are important engines of wealth and job creation, well beyond the benefits enjoyed by our graduates. We are not businesses, but like businesses, we
strive for high performance. We seek to maximize the positive return on investment to our shareholders, just as businesses do. Instead of measuring profit, however, we measure success through the people we educate, the quality of instruction our faculty provide, and the discoveries our researchers make. We value these discoveries not just in terms
of their contribution to human knowledge – solving tomorrow’s problems, if you
like – but also in terms of their impact on the social, cultural and economic issues of today.
Beyond these measures, we also seek to be more efficient, adopting best practices, and
pioneering others. We can be proud of our achievements.
At UNB, over the past 7 years, we have made significant progress in the responsible management of our costs, removing over $20 million, about 12%, of expense growth out of our operating budget. The proportion of the UNB’s operating budget occupied by administration
has also been reduced over time, decreasing from 9.5% of overall spending in 2003-04 to 8.5% by 2009-10.
Post-secondary institutions have comprehensive budgets, closely scrutinized by independent Boards, and subject to rigorous internal and external audits. There are external reviews of the quality of our programs, and accreditation exercises supervised by national bodies with oversight by our Faculty Councils and Senates. We have formed purchasing consortia to create
economies of scale for items ranging from paper to insurance to library acquisitions. Administrative processes such as purchasing and requisitioning activities are subject to review.
At present, the impact of the global economic downturn and consequent austerity measures undertaken by employers and governments is significant. In the face of this challenge, we have worked hard to deliver a quality of education that is among the best in the world
while maintaining financial accessibility for students.
A recent economic impact analysis shows that UNB creates more revenue for our provincial government each year than it gives us. Universities and colleges are a smart investment for a brighter future and a more prosperous New Brunswick. Our on-going search for improvements and efficiencies make a better case for such investments every day.