Now that Manitoba’s universities have had time to digest what the 2018 budget cuts mean for them, they are starting to react.

Anyone who has been to university, or works at one, understands the importance of the campus library. The library provides, intellectually speaking, essential services to students, professors and instructors. It seems unthinkable that the chief librarian would lose her job.

Well, the unthinkable has happened. As reported in the Brandon Sun, Brandon University has eliminated the position of chief librarian, claiming that the newly formed chief information officer (which amalgamates the head librarian with two other positions) will save money while – you guessed it – not affecting services.  Really??

As reported by The Sun, “The head archivist at the University of Manitoba says eliminating the chief librarian at Brandon University will put the school in a “weak spot” when it comes to advocating for the library in the future.”

The need to look for cuts arose when, according to the BU Board of Governors Interim President Robinson, “[. . . ]was expecting the province to keep its operating grants to post-secondary institutions at the same level as last year and was surprised to see a reduction in the government’s budget.

We’ll track other changes on our university campuses as they arise.

International students lose access to healthcare

Another provincial policy change affects all international students in Manitoba: as of September 1st, they will lose their right to access Manitoba Health.  Allowing international students to access our public health care system was a policy brought in by the last NDP government.

As reported in this CBC article, “On Friday, the province’s Progressive Conservative government passed an amendment to the Health Services Insurances Act repealing a 2012 clause that gave college and university students from abroad access to universal health care.”

The article estimates that this will add between $2,400 – $3,600/year to an international student’s cost of studying in Manitoba.  More than one international student interviewed for the article claimed that having access to Manitoba Health was a big part of their decision to study here. “

“I think it will be like detrimental for Manitoba,” said Diaslara, who came from Venezuela and paid $12,000 in tuition for a one-year applied business management program.”

“It took me by surprise. I didn’t expect that because Manitoba is a very open place for international students.”

The article also interviewed a student from Columbia and learned that “[. . .]  part of the reason she and her husband came to Winnipeg from Colombia to study was free health care.”

“She says the change could discourage students like her from coming to Manitoba, and she doesn’t yet know what her family will do come September.”

Given that international students pay so much more tuition than Canadians, ($18,500 vs $5,800/year for a business degree, for example), they provide an important source of funding for our universities, helping to keep costs down for locals.  This move puts that strategy at risk as our universities will now be less competitive.