The UTM Campus Affairs Committee met on January 12 to discuss campus enrolment and registrarial services during the pandemic. The committee also approved the 2021–22 Operating Plans and Budgets for the UTM Service Ancillaries. 

Operating plans for 2021–2022

Chief Administrative Officer Saher Fazilat spoke about the operating plans for UTM’s service ancillaries. She noted that student housing and hospitality were able to break even this year, using the savings from the operating reserves and capital savings. Parking services had “really low” revenues because on-campus traffic was low and because it had to pay back previous loans it owed to UTM operating this year. 

Parking services also had to return money to people who had purchased parking from March to August of 2020. However, some money will be saved since not as much snow removal will be needed this year due to low usage of parking spaces.

Fazilat also noted that ancillary services will be “permanently permitted to carry a negative fund balance” as long as they have a plan to address the lost revenue.

Student housing and residence revenue fell due to cancellations. “About 50 per cent of our students actually cancelled their bookings,” said Fazilat. There was also a loss of revenue due to limitations on capacity in residence. “To follow the public health advice… we have to offer single rooms, and that would take away our ability to offer all rooms to full capacity to within overall 80 per cent capacity.”

Registrarial services in the pandemic

Lorretta Neebar, Registrar & Director of Enrolment Management, reported on changes in the registrar system beginning in the year 2003. Neebar highlighted how 2003 marked the beginning of the campus’ move toward a paperless system. By 2017, said Neebar, the Office of the Registrar was focused on connecting people across campus, and it prioritized work on the online aspect of the system since then. 

“When the pandemic hit… we were well equipped and already ready with the hardware, the culture, and the security to be able to move fully remotely,” Neebar said. “Other than [the challenge of holding exams], every single service we’ve been able to deliver remotely, both to students as well as to staff and faculty.”

Neebar discussed how a few months into the COVID-19 pandemic, they realized the central email system was not sustainable, making communication with individual students especially difficult. “In April, we made the decision to change that internal system using ServiceNow for our internal ticketing to actually make it a student-facing system,” Neebar said. The Office of the Registrar launched this in the form of AskRegistrar on August 24. “This allowed us to give… a forum for students to contact us around the clock.”

Enrolment update 

Neebar discussed how, in the fall, UTM did not meet enrolment intake targets for new students, but they noted that because of a high retention rate, the number of registered students remained high. “We were short on domestic by quite a bit as well as some on international,” said Neebar.

“What I’m encouraged by this is even though we had a smaller incoming class, we were able to retain a high number of quality-calibre students, especially at the highest scholarship range, with about 121 students receiving our $3,000 renewable award.”

Neebar also noted that while a lower number of high school students accepted offers of admission, the admission average still remained consistent.