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Government - intermediary - university : the financial decision-making role of the Universities Council of British Columbia Southern, Lee


This study examines the financial decision-making role of the Universities Council of British Columbia as an intermediary in government-university relations. It focusses on the major decisions taken by the Universities Council in the period 1974-1982 in exercising its statutory mandate for university financing. The purpose is two fold: to determine whether any problems exist for the Universities Council as an intermediary in the performance of its financial decision-making role; and, if problems exist, to recommend appropriate future courses of action to address them. This task is attempted, first, by making a review of the literature, to establish what has already been learned about the performance of intermediaries in a government-university setting and the nature of university costs and financial behaviour; second, by utilizing an elementary mode of analysis which involves the construction of simple, descriptive models representing some of the elements recognized to be present in the interaction between governments, universities, and intermediaries; third, by recounting the difficulties actually encountered by the Universities Council in recent decisions concerning (i) the annual recommendation to government about the universities' financial requirements, and (ii) the annual allocations to the universities for general operating purposes; and fourth, concluding with some suggestions concerning the Council's financial decision-making role in future. The examination discloses two basic problems associated with the Council's approaches for discharging its financial mandate. First, Council has not been able to formulate a fully satisfactory perception of the financial requirements of the universities. Second, in absence of such a perception the Council has not succeeded in developing an acceptable long term methodology for the allocation of the provincial operating grant for universities. In addition, the analysis suggests that an intermediary in higher education requires the retention of significant support from the other major entities in the system. The study concludes by suggesting that Council explore a more explicit planning approach to guide its financial decision-making role.

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