As the result of high debt and decreasing enrollment rates, the City University of New York must now reduce its budget while also making efforts to stabilize the infrastructure of certain schools.
Chancellor Felix Matos Rodriguez defended multiple rounds of painful spending cuts and a hiring freeze across the CUNY system on Thursday, as measures have slashed the cash-strapped university organization’s structural deficit by “almost half.”
“While we have made great strides, there’s still more work to be done,” Rodriguez said on the projected financial plan.
By the end of this year, CUNY expects to shrink its deficit down to $128 million from a high of $234 million in fiscal year 2022, as reported by the chancellor to state lawmakers at a hearing on the state’s higher education budget.
However, the Professional Staff Congress retaliated against what they called “austerity measures,” including larger class sizes and reduced student services ranging from library hours to cafeteria access.
“There are resources in the state economy to resist these cuts,” James Davis, the PSC President, said on the compressed fiscal plan, “and add hundreds of millions more to the CUNY budget.”
On the Queens College campus in Flushing, more than two dozen full-time substitute lecturers lost their teaching gigs within weeks of the Spring semester.
Although the school system recently logged a 2% rise in enrollment, it’s still down 40,000 students since thepre-pandemic fall of 2019.
CUNY’s approach to addressing the deficit includes two rounds of across-the-board savings targets and most recently a targeted plan that focuses on nine campuses that have “shown signs of more fiscal distress,” Rodriguez said.
Meanwhile, Gov. Kathy Hochul’s proposal for next school year includes a $36 million increase in operating funds for CUNY’s four-year colleges and a community college funding floor so that no school receives less state aid than it did last year if enrollment drops. The plan also allocates $441 million to invest in new facilities and repair damaged campuses.
As a means of driving up student enrollment and tuition revenue, Hochul announced plans for both CUNY and the State University of New York last month to automatically admit students in the top 10% of their high school classes to their more selective campuses.
Despite efforts to increase enrollment, there is still much to be done in relation to the physical deterioration of city universities, as just 8% of the 300 CUNY buildings are considered to be in “good repair,” according to the strategic plan announced ahead of this school year.