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Dix hints at rescue for Capilano University

NDP leader Adrian Dix has hinted that Capilano University could be rescued from severe cuts to its program, if the university Board of Governors will postpone its decision on next year's budget.

As The Tyee has reported here and here, Cap U faces a $1.3 million shortfall in its 2013-14 budget. The university is not allowed to run a deficit, and senior administrators have proposed meeting the shortfall by eliminating or suspending several prominent departments and programs including Studio Arts.

That proposal triggered a strong reaction from faculty, staff, and students, leading to a recent vote by the university's senate not to recommend the cuts to the Board of Governors, who are scheduled to vote on the budget on Tuesday, May 14, election day.

A meeting of faculty, staff and students this morning heard reports from various committees on how they are campaigning to resist the cuts. A considerable online campaign is already under way, including a new website created by the Interactive Design program -- which is among those facing suspension. Probably the most notable report, however, was an email from Adrian Dix, expressing sympathy for the university's predicament. Dix went on to say:

Education and skills training is the number one priority of the BC NDP, and our platform commits to a needs-based student grant program as well as investing in skills training and apprenticeships. Eighty per cent of the jobs of tomorrow will require some form of post-secondary education or training and access to education is key to growing a sustainable economy that will attract investment, create good jobs, and build ladders of opportunity into a strong middle class.

The decision to cut these programs is ultimately the decision of Capilano University's Board of Governors, but we urge them to wait until after the May 14th election. The plan does not need to be rushed through. The decision should wait until a new government in BC has the chance to discuss the future of these programs with Capilano University and determine if any additional funding is available at that time.

While those at the meeting seemed encouraged by the email, it remains to be seen whether the Board of Governors will accept the proposed budget with its cuts, reject it, or simply table it until its next scheduled meeting, in early June.

Crawford Kilian is a contributing editor of The Tyee.

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