On October 31, the Planning and Budget Committee (PBC) of U of T’s Governing Council voted to recommend leasing the 17th floor of the Ontario Power Generation Building, located at 700 University Avenue. This would serve to accommodate additional space needs for the Faculty of Arts & Science (FAS).

The PBC also presented updates from the university’s Strategic Mandate Agreement (SMA) with the province, as well as the Student Choice Initiative (SCI). It further proposed changes to the Rotman School of Management’s long-term academic plan, and discussed the ongoing Budget Model Review.

The PBC, which is overseen by the Academic Board, is responsible for “monitoring, reviewing, and making recommendations” on issues that involve the use of U of T’s resources, such as funds, land, and facilities.

Leasing the 17th floor of the Ontario Power Generation Building

The PBC unanimously voted to recommend the leasing of the 17th floor of the Ontario Power Generation Building to accommodate space needs for the FAS, mainly to house the Department of Sociology.

The project, if approved, will move the Department of Sociology to this more central location, as the department is currently located in the northwest corner of UTSG by Bloor Street West and Spadina Avenue.

Part of the Vector Institute and several other FAS units will also be housed on the same floor.

Strategic Mandate Agreement

The SMAs are bilateral agreements between the province and each of Ontario’s 45 publicly assisted colleges and universities, and determine the amount of funding they receive. The current SMAs are set to expire in 2020.

The provincial government has introduced new performance-based funding frameworks for existing funds for universities and colleges across Ontario. The 10 performance metrics fall into the broader categories of skills and jobs, community impact, and economic impact. For example, graduation rates and employment rates fall under the area of skills and jobs.

To evaluate U of T’s performance as an academic institution and determine the amount of funding allocated for U of T, the provincial government will look at the trends over time for each metric. U of T will work with the provincial government to finalize the allocation of provincial funding across the ten performance metrics by March 21, 2020.

In 2020–2021, U of T projects that it will receive $170 million — 12 per cent of its total operating budget — through its SMA with the provincial government, and anticipates this amount will grow to $400 million by 2024–2025.

Student Choice Initiative

The provincial government’s SCI, which took effect this fall, allowed students to opt out of incidental fees that are categorized as “non-essential.”

Meredith Strong, Director of the Office of the Vice-Provost, presented the opt-out numbers and data on the effects of the SCI on student services and societies for the fall 2019 term.

There were a total of 523 optional fees across U of T, with 30 or more fees deemed optional for each student, depending on their program.

Fees which students could opt-out of ranged from $15 to $380 per term. If a student opted out of all their incidental fees, they saved anywhere from three to 36 per cent in incidental fees, depending on their program and campus.

Opt-outs from non-essential incidental fees resulted in a $300,000 reduction in total revenue for student services, and a $1 million reduction in total revenue for student societies.

In response to a member’s question on what would happen if the Canadian Federation of Students–Ontario’s (CFS–O) and the York Federation of Students’ (YFS) judicial review of the policy was successful, Strong said that U of T is monitoring the case and that the SCI would continue to be implemented until the government directs the university to do otherwise.

On Thursday, the Divisional Court of Ontario ruled in favour of the CFS–O and CFS, deeming the SCI unlawful and ultimately finding that the provincial government lacked the legal authority to regulate the collection of student union fees.

Miscellaneous items

Trevor Rodgers, Assistant Vice-President of Planning & Budget, spoke on the ongoing Budget Model Review. U of T adopted a new budget model in 2006, which has five pillars: inter-divisional teaching working, alternative funding sources, Strategic Mandate Agreement, operational excellence, and tri-campus budget relationships.

New recommendations from the review include aligning academic priorities according to the provincial government’s performance metrics and implementing teaching methods from UTSG to UTM and UTSC.

The Dean of Rotman School Tiff Macklem presented changes for Rotman’s academic plan for 2019–2024.

The plan centers on four core goals: advancing research scholarship, focusing on experiential learning and personal development, extending thought leadership in the global community, and strengthening alumni engagement and Rotman’s global network.

Members of the PBC also discussed a proposal to construct a new building for undergraduate Rotman students.

The next PBC meeting is on January 9, 2020.