$15M taken from U of A reserves to cover operating shortfall
EDMONTON -- The University of Alberta is dipping into its reserves after the provincial budget left it approximately $79 million short for 2019-20.
Administration confirmed its board of governors approved on Friday a one-time transfer of $15 million to the academic year’s operating budget.
According to an annual report published in March, the reserve account held about $55 million and was created to protect the school’s operations from the volatility of financial markets.
In a Nov. 26 statement, President and Vice-Chancellor David Turpin said the university was working to manage a $44-million cut to its Campus Alberta grant and a $35-million cut to its Infrastructure Maintenance Program funding.
The reserve withdrawal and cancellation of “all possible” maintenance and infrastructure projects helped to free up $34 million, Turpin said.
However, the remaining $45 million would be made up through a 4.7 per cent cut to faculties and an average in-year eight per cent cut to central support units.
“These cuts are significant and will require some hard choices. Our priority in making these reductions is to maintain an outstanding learning experience for our students and to support the amazing research that has made us one of the world’s best universities,” the school’s president wrote.
A review done by a government-mandated panel earlier in the year found Alberta post-secondary education is more heavily subsidized by taxpayers than other provinces. A spokesperson said the government is making the system more efficient.
"Students contribute just 20 per cent to the cost of their education, while taxpayers contribute 50 per cent. Under our tuition changes, this mix will change to 25 per cent and 45 per cent respectively," Laurie Chandler, advanced education press secretary, wrote in a statement to CTV News Edmonton.
Chandler said the previous tuition freeze didn't improve access, enrolment or completion rates and that the government directed institutions to first look at minimizing administrative costs and overheads.
Turpin said the U of A would be continuing to work on the 2020-21 budget and following years.