Planning and Budget Committee projects $22 million increase in 2020–2021 budget

Changes to revenue sources, 2019–2020 enrollment data discussed
RILLA WANG/THE VARSITY
RILLA WANG/THE VARSITY

“Our government funding continues to decline, as a percentage of our budget comes from the provincial government,” said Cheryl Regehr, Vice-President and Provost, at the fourth Planning and Budget Committee (PBC) meeting of 20192020. The meeting addressed the 2020–2021 Budget Report and 2018–2019 enrollment figures.

“The other challenge that we had this year that was unexpected was the 10 per cent tuition cut,” continued Regehr.

She also noted that 22 per cent of U of T’s operating budget came from the provincial government at the February 25 meeting, which is a two per cent decrease from 2018–2019. The PBC, a division of the Governing Council, is responsible for making recommendations on the use of U of T’s resources and funds.

2020–2021 budget accounts for investments in student services, deferred maintenance, capital projects

U of T’s budgeted revenue for 2020–2021 is $2.99 billion.

Eighty-seven per cent of its operating budget comes from tuition and student fees, as well as provincial government funding. The remainder comes from sources such as investments — including real estate — and endowment funds.

This projected budget sees an eight per cent increase from the 2019–2020 budget, due in part to increasing international student tuition and enrollment. Regehr said that while funding cuts from both tuition and provincial government funding were felt across all faculties and departments, professional faculties were hit the hardest.

The 2020–2021 Budget Report outlines key priorities for the university, such as research support, capital project investments, and other institution-wide strategic initiatives.

Of note is that $6 million — around 14 per cent of the university fund (UF) — will be budgeted for health and wellness services and facilities, among other items. The UF is determined by the provost and is used to set aside funds for “academic priorities emerging from discussions during annual budget reviews.”

The $6 million will contribute to redesigning mental health services as per the Presidential & Provostial Task Force on Student Mental Health’s recommendations, such as adding more counselling options and appointing a tri-campus clinical director. In addition, some of the funds will be used to build the Centre for Graduate Mentorship and Supervision to provide additional supports for graduate students.

“We really want to use the budget to foster student success and student well-being,” said Regehr. “And as you all know, this has been a talk of the year in terms of student experience.”

“We also use our reserves for funding mental health services,” Regehr said. “And so we have set aside $40 million in one-time-only funding to redesign the mental health facilities across our three campuses.”

Other areas of investments are maintaining U of T’s library system, deferred maintenance, and capital projects across all three campuses.

The PBC voted to recommend the 2020–2021 Budget Report and the 2024–2025 Long Range Budget for approval. The Long Range Budget proposes budgetary guidelines for five-year intervals.

U of T surpasses 20192020 enrollment targets, sees increased international student enrollment

UTSG and UTM exceeded their projected enrollment targets for 2019–2020, while UTSC fell short of their target.

Around 25 per cent of undergraduate and graduate students in 2019–2020 were from countries outside of Canada. Of those, 65 per cent of undergraduate students and 39 per cent of graduate students were from China. Following China, the top countries for both undergraduate and graduate intakes include India, the United States, South Korea, and Iran. At U of T, international student tuition is set to see a 5.3 per cent increase in 2020–2021.

Enrollment is expected to grow at all three campuses by 2024–2025, with UTSC anticipating the largest increase at 11.6 per cent. As a result, capital construction projects are expected to make up a sizable portion of the operating budget to house more student services and facilities, for instance. The estimated cost for these projects is $3.9 billion over the next five years.

The next PBC meeting is on April 1, 2020.

With files from Nicole Shi

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