The University of the Fraser Valley will face a struggle to absorb new cuts to post-secondary education outlined in the provincial budget last month, said a senior administrator.
Eric Davis, UFV provost and vice-president academic, said the burgeoning university has already been contending with too many students and not enough money the past couple of years.
"The cuts place real constraints on our ability to serve students of the Fraser Valley," said Davis.
"[UFV] is in great demand and we can't completely satisfy that, and there's been no growth funding for some years now.
"If you take more money from the system the challenges become even greater."
In February, Minister of Finance and Abbotsford West MLA Mike de Jong presented a $44-billion budget that features a $197-million surplus as well as tax increases for high-income earners and corporations, higher Medical Services Plan fees, the sale of Crown properties, limits to health spending and cuts to post-secondary education.
A total of $46 million will be cut from the post-secondary budget over the next three years.
UFV doesn't have enough physical space or per student funding to meet current demand as it stands now, said Davis.
Last summer 3,000 students were placed on wait lists for courses.
The Abbotsford campus is particularly overtaxed, running at 130 per cent capacity. Overall capacity, including the Chilliwack campus, sits at 105 per cent.
"There's no new capital funding for new buildings coming our way and the overall capital funding envelope is on the decline, including funding for the maintenance of existing facilities," said Davis.
De Jong has said that provincial funding for post-secondary schools is at an all-time high, and efficiencies can be found on the administrative level that won't impact frontline services.
Davis isn't so sure.
"At whatever level, just about everything we do at UFV impacts student services and it's a big challenge to take money out and not affect them."
While the costs specific to UFV from the budget cuts have to be worked out, Davis thinks the negative impact will likely range between $1.2 to $1.5 million.
Shane Potter, UFV student union society president, said the provincial cuts are "extremely unfortunate."
"The government doesn't value post-secondary education," he said, noting the new budget also has ramifications for UFV's trade certification programs.
"You usually see the cuts in the arts and academics, but now you're seeing them across the board.
"We're going to see a lot less qualified skilled labourers in the work force."
Students already feel the pinch at UFV, he said.
"We're bursting at the seams and it's quite apparent to students," Potter said, noting first-year class wait lists are often 30 to 40 people long.
Student services are "widely stretched" with people often waiting up to a month to see academic or personal counsellors, he said.
Extracurricular student activities or clubs are also hampered by a lack of space as classrooms are booked solid to meet course needs.
"There's just not enough money," he said.
UFV has finished budgeting for the coming year, and will have devise mechanisms to absorb the upcoming cuts, said Davis.
"The choices aren't easy ones and we try to put students first and strive for efficiencies," he said. "But there will be sacrifices one way or another to get there."