Message from Brian Jessop, Vice-President, Administration
Last night the Board of Governors met and approved the 2016/17 budget.
The University Budget Committee, with 17 members including students, faculty and staff representatives, met several times in preparation for the Board meeting. The committee reviewed trending data, received presentations from the Students’ Union and student experience reflecting student requirements. The Committee members provided input and discussed drafts of the plan in advance of the presentation to the Board.
Our 2016/17 balanced operating budget upholds our solid track record of focusing on our students while being financially responsible. There are a number of factors that are taken into consideration during the budget process and some of those are outlined below.
While the grant we receive from the Province will increase by 1%, it will not be sufficient to address the increase in costs of operating the university. The University continues to focus on enrolments, in attracting new students and retaining current students, and seeking efficiencies where possible. At the same time, we are required to address the gap in funding, as costs associated with salaries and benefits, which account for 77% of our expenditures, rise over time. The Mount’s Board of Governors has approved a modest budget increase of 1.5% over last year.
The Board and associated committees took into consideration the importance of maintaining student services and a continued commitment to academic excellence and student success. The University will be addressing a number of priorities that were brought forward by students including improved signage on campus (building on the standard established in the McCain Centre, work is already underway in Evaristus and will be expanded to other areas), updates to the Seton Auditorium and a focus on student supports including counselling.
The Mount’s commitment to provide financial support to students will increase by $100,000 over last year’s budget and result in the availability of $2.2 million in scholarships, awards, bursaries, tuition waivers and discounts.
The Board approved a balanced budget which includes a 3% increase in tuition. For a full-time (based on five units of credit) undergrad Arts student for example, this is the equivalent of $199 per academic year. The Board also approved a 3.84% increase to the differential for international students. The decision to increase tuition was made after much deliberation and consideration of all factors.
In 2015, the Province of Nova Scotia announced that they would allow universities to make one-time adjustments to tuition (called “tuition market adjustments”), to be implemented over three years, 2016/17 to 2018/19, outside of the 3% annual tuition increase that is currently allowed by the government.
With a focus on ensuring our sustainability and following consultation with the Mount community, the Board of Governors voted in December to approve a per course tuition increase of $21 for all undergraduate programs (a course = one half unit of credit).
These funds are not reflected in the operating budget; they will be used in the future to address any potential gaps given uncertainties in enrolments and other factors, and a portion will serve to augment our bursary fund and support our students with the greatest financial need.
Continued commitment to accessibility
The Mount’s tuition remains amongst the lowest in the province and we continue to be committed to providing our students with access to a high quality education and learning experience.