Skip to content

Hot off the presses: 2009-10 UNB Budget

May 28, 2009

This was just sent out:

To: The University Community
From: John McLaughlin, President

Subject: 2009-10 UNB Budget

In what has been an unusual budget process due in large part to the cascading effects of the global economic environment, I am pleased to announce the Board of Governors has approved the 2009-10 budget.

2009-10 Budget Highlights

In 2009-10, UNB will operate on a $166.2-million budget. This represents a slight increase over the total of last year’s budget; however the rising costs of utilities combined with unstable interest rates and a lack of investment returns from our trust and endowment accounts are continuing to exert pressure against our operating budget.

Approximately 62 per cent of our operating revenue comes from the provincial operating grant, which has been decreased by approximately 0.6% in comparison to 2008-09 levels. Tuition will comprise 32 per cent and six per cent will come from other sources.

More than 70 per cent of our budget directly supports students and research through faculty and academic department costs, and academic and student support across our campuses in Fredericton and Saint John. The remainder of the budget supports campus maintenance and utilities, information technology, administration and development.

Based on the global economic context, and as previously communicated, we were projecting a shortfall in our budget planning. Hard work by budget teams on both campuses has contained the shortfall for the 2009-10 budget to $3 million. However, a concerted effort was, and is, required to maintain the quality learning and work environment we have all worked so hard to build over the past several years. We can expect to take a closer examination of all of our activities in the coming months to ensure our students, our research and our community are receiving the best possible service from the available resources. Likewise, we will have to concentrate our efforts to generate and diversify our revenue streams so that we can further protect ourselves from future fluctuations in the local and global markets. Our incoming President, Dr. Eddy Campbell, will continue these efforts.

Capital Budget

A $62-million capital budget has also been approved, $40 million higher than last year due to directed spending from the provincial economic stimulus packages. We have not as yet been informed on the status of our applications for federal stimulus funds. This targeted funding is available only for infrastructure projects that have been approved by the funding agencies and may not be used for other operational uses. This targeted funding will, however, allow us to make significant gains against deferred maintenance on both campuses. The capital budget also reflects the CURRIE CENTER project on the Fredericton campus and the new Medical Education building on the Saint John campus.

Budget Planning Assumptions

Recent budgets have been influenced by two very real trends that are affecting universities across the country. Government funding is declining and shrinking demographics in the Maritimes have translated into lower enrolments. These issues were again apparent during the current budget process and we cannot lose sight of them during the current economic climate.

As you are aware, budget planning was also extended to account for some significant changes to our initial budget assumptions. Endowments around the world continued to experience downward pressure and the provincial budget enacted a decrease on university base operating grants. Although further cost containment was a very real factor in budget discussions the following principles were followed in developing the budget for presentation to our Board:

• Continue to focus on institutional quality.
• Protect gains made in improving the overall student experience.
• Lessen the level of inevitable shortfall in the operating budget.
• Protect scholarship levels.
• Protect library acquisitions and student services.

Challenging budgets are reported as the norm in today’s uncertain global climate, but no organization wishes to see itself in a deficit position. In spite of the challenges facing all of us, I am pleased to note that we were successful in meeting our objectives in several critically important areas.

Impact to Students

The provincial government has frozen domestic tuition fees for the second year in a row. At $5,482, UNB undergraduate tuition is nearly $200 less than the Maritime average. Graduate tuition fees also remain unchanged. This measure will help our students to manage their expenses during a time when education is increasingly expensive.

Approximately $250,000 has been added to operating budget scholarship funding so that overall existing levels are to be maintained for at least two years and no reductions have been made to student services and library acquisitions. This will allow us to protect the quality of our student experience, which was clearly identified as our priority during these uncertain economic times.

Students will notice some slight increases in select areas. These increases are in alignment with local, regional and national averages. The international supplemental fee will increase by $421 while the MBA fee will increase by 13.5 per cent. A $50 per-student health services fee will also take effect to help offset the costs associated with the provision of health services on both campuses.

Residence room rates have also been identified for an increase to bring them in alignment with local market rates. Residence space will remain competitive, but will be subject to an increase of up to 4.3 per cent in Fredericton and 2.5 per cent in Saint John.

Impact to Faculty and Staff

The current budget cycle has, without doubt, placed a great deal of stress on the shoulders of our faculty and staff and I want to thank everyone for recognizing the importance of keeping our students first.

One of the recommendations of the 2008 Condon-O’Sullivan report on inter-campus relations was incorporated in the budget to equalize campus funding for a weighted full-time student equivalents. This recommendation of the commission was designed to address an issue created through allocation of the provincial funding formula, which, over time, resulted in a different dollar amount of funding per weighted full-time equivalent student being received by each campus.

Other measures have also affected members of our faculty and staff as we have further tried to control costs. As you will know, economic adjustments have been frozen for members of the administrative, professional and technical group including deans, directors, vice-presidents and the president. We are currently engaged in the collective bargaining process with various bargaining groups. It is our expectation that the financial context for UNB will be an important matter in the process

The hiring of most full-time academic and support staff for the 2009-10 fiscal year has been deferred so that these positions remain vacant during the fiscal year. Twelve positions were eliminated, mostly through attrition.

The Future

Although the global financial situation has placed a great deal of stress on public institutions, I have no doubt that we will continue to build on our status as one of Canada’s best comprehensive universities. The past several years have been challenging for many universities and yet we have continued to operate ahead of our class. We have risen significantly in the annual Maclean’s rankings of Canadian comprehensive universities, we have increased overall annual levels of student support from all funding sources from $10 to $20 million and we were recognized among the top three comprehensive universities in Canada in terms of percentage growth in research revenue. We have much to be proud of.

The full budget will be made available on the UNB website on Tuesday, June 2 at the following address and I encourage anyone with questions to direct them to any member of the University Management Committee. Town Hall meetings for our faculty and staff will also take place in Fredericton on June 9 (Head Hall C13 from 2:00 – 3:30 p.m.) and in Saint John on June 10 (Hazen Hall Lecture Theatre from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m.) so that our community can have the opportunity to discuss the budget as well as other opportunities and challenges that currently affect UNB.

As you know, ours is by far not the only institution facing a significant challenge through the recent economic events that have been affecting the world. I would like to thank all of our faculty, staff and students for their commitment to UNB and for the tremendous work they have put in to developing our budget for 2009-10.


Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: