Business Board identifies rising international tuition as barrier to recruiting from developing countries

Gender pay gap among librarians also reviewed 
YASSINE ELBARADIE/THE VARSITY
YASSINE ELBARADIE/THE VARSITY

On February 3, the Business Board of U of T’s Governing Council discussed outreach efforts to international students, university debt, and annual net income, as well as shared the administrative response to gender-based salary gaps.  

U of T sees large growth in student recruitment from China, India, and the Middle East

Vice-President International Ted Sargent presented an update on the International Strategic Plan to the board, providing members with updates on U of T’s efforts in global outreach and presence. 

Sargent noted that China, India, and the Middle East were the regions that saw the most growth in the number of students at the university.

When members inquired about regions that did not see much growth, particularly Africa, Sargent acknowledged that the university did not see enrollment growth in students from lower-income regions. Sargent pointed to rising international tuition as a cause to the lack of growth in recruiting students from these regions.

“We recognize that with international intuition continuing to increase at this university, [attracting students from lower-income regions] poses a challenge for us,” said Sargent.

While Sargent did not elaborate on what actions the university plans to take to address this disparity, he affirmed that the university is taking ongoing steps “to develop strategies where [the university] can have students that are truly best of the best academically and [who want] to come to the University of Toronto.”

Debt review and financial forecast

Chief Financial Officer Sheila Brown presented the key takeaways of the Annual Review on Debt Strategy, which evaluates whether U of T’s debt strategy provides sufficient debt capacity to meet its needs. 

Brown reported that the financial forecast for the university estimates a reduction of $103 million in net income “due to a smaller projected increase in revenues for this year as compared to last year,” but did not explain further.

Brown also affirmed that the current debt policies, which were approved in 2012, continue to support the university’s capital needs. Earlier this year, U of T’s credit rating had improved from Aa2 to Aa1 by Moody’s Investor Service, a bond credit rating company which conducts analysis of the credit ratings of universities in Canada, the US, and the UK. 

The Aa1 rating is the second highest rating in Moody’s credit rating scale, and signals that the university’s income obligations are “judged to be of high quality and are subject to very low credit risk.” The improved rating means that there is a higher confidence in U of T to pay back its loans without any issues.

Addressing the gender-based salary gap

Vice-President and Provost Cheryl Regehr explained the university’s administrative response to findings of the November 2019 report concerning gender-based salary equity among librarians at the university. The report found that on average, female librarians at the University of Toronto earn 3.9 per cent less than “comparably situated” male librarians.

Regehr announced that the university has set aside funds so that every woman librarian — of which there are 125 — will receive an increase to their 2019 base salary.

The next Business Board meeting will be held on March 18.

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