U of A running nearly $14M budget deficit, planning reductions
The University of Alberta says it is running a multi-million dollar budget deficit for the 2017-2018 budget year, and they are planning budget cuts in the coming years to make up for the shortfall.
In a blog post, the U of A cited a multi-year tuition freeze and changes to provincial funding that have added up over time in their nearly $14 million budget deficit.
“We’re not panicking, it’s important that we treat this seriously,” Dr. Steve Dew with the University of Alberta said.
“Well keep in mind our operating budget is over a billion dollars, so this is a 1.5 percent component.”
For post-secondary institutions across the province, the Campus Alberta grant is the main funding source.
The government is looking at changes to the grant, but says the U of A has received more funding in the past three years: from $579 million in 2015 to $624 million this year.
“The universities are independent organizations and it’s up to them to allocate their money as they see fit,” Advanced Education Minister Marlin Schmidt said.
“We are in the process of a tuition review and we will have more to say about the future of tuition in Alberta later this year.”
As a result of the deficit, the U of A is planning 4 percent budget cuts in the 2018-2019 budget year, followed by estimated 2.5 percent reductions in the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 school years.
Dr. Dew told CTV News he hopes the quality of education won’t be impacted by the cuts, and he said the budget reductions will hit all faculties equally.
As for other post-secondary institutions in the Edmonton-area, a spokesperson for Macewan University said they’re also feeling a financial pinch.
"MacEwan's enrollment is expected to reach an all-time high during the 17/18 academic year, and this growth is putting pressure on space and services, and pushing up costs. Consequently, future budgets are a concern. However, we are in the early stages of finalizing our 18/19 fiscal year budget, and we cannot comment yet on the full impact of rising costs or the current freeze on tuition and fees.”
Officials at Macewan expect to have a clearer picture of the financial impacts in early 2018.
A spokesperson for NAIT said officials there were still going through the budget process for their 2018-2019 budget, and hadn’t finalized numbers yet.
The U of A is hosting a meeting open to all students and faculty on November 9, where they will be able to ask questions.
With files from Jeremy Thompson