A message from Brian Jessop, Vice President, Administration
I am writing to provide you with an update on the budget process and results of the meeting of the Board of Governors last night.
The University Budget Committee, with 17 members including students, faculty and staff representatives, met six times over the last three months to review stakeholder input and data (e.g. enrolment trends) towards preparing a proposed budget for the University’s Board of Governors.
Budget consultations included two town halls for students hosted by the Mount Students’ Union with presentations by the Mount’s Director of Finance and Administration, the AVP Student Experience and me.
The Budget Committee then approved a proposed 2018-2019 budget for recommendation to the President. The President, in turn, recommended the budget to the Finance Committee who approved it for recommendation to the University’s Board of Governors.
Last night, the Board of Governors considered the recommendation in great detail, reviewing the factors that were taken into consideration, and approved the budget.
Balancing the budget
Each year, we seek to identify a budget that focuses on the needs of our students – maintaining student services and our commitment to academic excellence and student success – while being financially responsible and also maintaining a focus on the long-term sustainability of the Mount.
An extremely tight budget with minimal operating additions along with a tuition increase of 3% was approved in light of declining enrolment and the need to maintain and enhance student supports. This was in addition to the approximate 3% tuition market adjustment that the Board of Governors approved in 2015 to be applied annually for a three-year period ending this budget year (2018/2019).
The University and Board of Governors take seriously the impact of a tuition increase on students before making such a decision. The Mount continues to be one of the most affordable universities and each year hundreds of students benefit from $2.5 million in scholarships and bursaries. This year, a further $50,000 has been added to bursary funding as a result of the previous market adjustment. Other priorities to be addressed in the year ahead include faculty renewal, international recruitment, student advising and updates to lab computer equipment.
The University remains focused on advocating to the provincial government for additional funding and we are working with our sister institutions across the province to outline the significant challenges being faced by the post-secondary sector. We are also committed to working with our students and students’ union to reinforce these messages.
In response to feedback from students, the University Budget Committee has created sub-committees with student representation to review all aspects of the online learning (distance) tuition fee and the co-op fee structure and bring forward recommendations to inform the 2019/20 budget development process.
The Mount has a culture of fiscal prudence, and I want to thank our faculty and staff for upholding this approach. As always, your ideas for savings and revenue generation are always welcome.