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OSAP changes threaten equitable access to education

Ford’s policies exacerbate the burden placed on students who rely on financial aid

OSAP changes threaten equitable access to education

In mid-June, the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) became the top trending topic on Twitter in the GTA. Many students shared how the changes that the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario announced in January will affect their ability to afford higher education. Notable changes include a decrease in grant-to-loan ratios, changes to the definition for independent students who are eligible for more support, and scrapping the free tuition program for low-income students. Some Twitter users posted screenshots comparing past OSAP payments to their current assessments to emphasize the substantial decrease.

Hundreds of thousands of students depend on OSAP to fully or partially cover their tuition, easing the financial burden of higher education. These changes may even determine whether students can afford to attend college or university at all. 

Students should not have to live in fear and trepidation while trying to better their lives. These changes intensify the economic barriers that can prevent promising students from accessing opportunities equal to those of their wealthier peers. Although many students work while going to school, a job may not be able to fully fill the gaping hole left by these cuts.  

Some students claimed that their final OSAP loan and grant recalculation differed drastically from their initial estimations they received in the beginning of the summer. Twitter user @natashambeckett wrote that her estimate was “8k less than [OSAP] originally totalled,” and that she didn’t “have that kind of money” to pay the difference — especially so late in the summer.

For me, the estimate did not change much: I am receiving approximately $1,600 less than last year. A glance at my own funding reveals that approximately 75 per cent of my OSAP funding would be through loans. My previous applications indicate that my funding has always been around 60 per cent loans, with the remaining 40 per cent coming in the form of grants. 

This kind of change from previous years will cause students to accumulate more debt once they leave their higher education institutions. Nonetheless, the most significant change is the overall funding that OSAP will provide. 

As a full-time student in a deregulated program, my yearly tuition is roughly $13,000. While in previous years OSAP covered about 80 per cent of my tuition, it is now estimated to only cover 65 per cent. With my last year only a month away, there is little opportunity for me to make up for this cost. This is the difficult situation that many students now face.

Ontario already has the highest tuition rates in Canada. Additionally, the loans-to-grants ratio has increased, with “a minimum of 50 per cent” of OSAP payment being through loans. If the steep tuition costs did not discourage many potential postsecondary students from enrolling in Ontario’s universities before, the inability of the province’s student aid program to cover a considerable amount of postsecondary education expenses may now.

These cuts potentially dissuade many students from pursuing higher education, especially with additional changes to funding eligibility,  such as a new definition of “independent” student. In calculations, students who have “been out of high school for six years or less, rather than four years” will have their parents’ income considered in the assessments. This means that students entering graduate programs are expected to rely on their parents’ support, preventing a considerable number of students from receiving aid that they expected.

It is also important to consider that students from affluent households already have a greater chance of obtaining a college or university education. Higher education is a known pathway to high-income jobs, and yet these OSAP changes threaten to further deepen the wealth inequality between low- and high-income students and serve as a barrier between economically disadvantaged students and tertiary education.

According to Statistics Canada, 81.4 per cent of graduates aged 25–64 were “in fields important for building a strong social infrastructure.” A more educated population creates a stronger, more fulfilled society, so placing financial barriers on students’ ability to learn is a poor long-term investment.

Students should not have to worry about financing their education. Education should not be something restricted to and exclusively for the wealthy. Currently, a bachelor’s degree is a must for entry into most mid-to-high income industry positions. Postsecondary education has become less of an asset and more of a requirement, meaning access to higher education is a necessity. 

With economic barriers to education, fewer students will enrol in postsecondary studies. Research shows that people with more education lead healthier and happier lives. When people are given access to postsecondary education, they are given the opportunity to forge better lives for themselves and ultimately create a more productive society.

Belicia Chevolleau is a fourth-year Communication, Culture, Information & Technology student at UTM.

Business Board releases reports on financial statements, university operations

Alternative funding, gender pay gap equity also discussed

Business Board releases reports on financial statements, university operations

U of T’s 2018–2019 financial statements were approved and alternative sources of funding discussed in the the June 18 meeting of Governing Council’s Business Board. The meeting included reports on university operations and real estate holdings, human resources and equity, and faculty gender pay equity.

Chief Financial Officer Sheila Brown presented U of T’s financial statements to the board, saying that the university had achieved better financial results than what it had projected in January.

The university’s net assets grew by $507 million to a total of $6.5 billion. U of T has $809 million in reserves for necessary capital projects and infrastructure over the next few years. Its contractual obligations with external builders are valued at $576 million.

Brown called the university’s preference to fund capital projects with its own assets rather than through financing “very prudent.”

University operations

In his annual report, Vice-President Operations and Real Estate Partnerships Scott Mabury discussed the successes of his department, which encompasses several offices including Ancillary Services, Facilities & Services, and Information Technology Services. He also emphasized U of T’s ongoing work on the Greenhouse Gas Retrofits Program and cybersecurity, briefly floating the idea of working together with other universities to build a Canadian Security Operations Centre, not to “win the war,” but to “stay ahead” of bad cyber actors.

Mabury specifically highlighted the Schwartz Reisman Innovation Centre, a future hub for artificial intelligence and biomedical innovation created through a $100 million donation in March. He referred to this as an achievement that showcased all aspects of the operations department, calling the media rollout a “beautiful example of managing a narrative.”

Mabury also discussed the development of the new student residence to be built at Spadina Avenue and Sussex Avenue, which he said exhibited how challenging the development process can be at times. U of T reached an agreement with the City of Toronto last year to develop the residence, after first proposing it in 2013. Mabury said that the period from the beginning of the project to occupancy of the building will have been approximately 12 years.

Alternative funding

Vice-President & Provost Cheryl Regehr presented a report of the Alternative Funding Sources Advisory Group. The group’s work is structured around what Regehr referred to as U of T’s core strengths: knowledge, real estate and physical infrastructure, and financial resources.

The report contains numerous recommendations for diversifying U of T’s income stream, ranging from developing joint undergraduate programs with a peer university, to investing in U of T startups. Regehr focused on recommendations related to the pillar of real estate and physical infrastructure, including expanding on the Four Corners approach to physical infrastructure that guides U of T’s expansion on all three campuses.

Gender pay equity

Regehr and Hannah-Moffat elaborated on the report of the Provostial Advisory Group on Faculty Gender Pay Equity, which was convened in fall 2016. One of the major findings of the report was that “on average, tenured and tenure stream women faculty at [U of T] earn 1.3% less than comparably situated faculty who are men, after controlling for experience, field of study, seniority, and other relevant factors.”

Analysis suggests that U of T’s 12 per cent raw overall difference between tenure-stream men and women is explained by the fact that, on average, these women have fewer years of experience and work in lower-paying fields of study. There is no statistically significant difference between salaries for male and female teaching stream faculty.

In her administrative response, Regehr announced that all female faculty who are tenured or tenure-stream at U of T will receive a 1.3 per cent increase to their base salary, effective July 1. U of T’s 834 eligible faculty were personally informed of this increase, which will cost U of T $1.8 million in the 2019–2020 fiscal year. This will be taken from the university’s central funds.

Other items

Vice-President Human Resources & Equity Kelly Hannah-Moffat discussed U of T’s smoke-free campus policy, noting that there have been no significant incidents since its implementation on January 1. She added that smoking on campus is not policed vigorously, contrary to previous concerns about enforcement of the policy.

The board also discussed the progress of the Sexual Violence Prevention & Support Centre, which opened in 2017. There was discussion of the difference between disclosures and reports of sexual violence. Regehr noted that disclosures of sexual violence made to the centre are often incidents that do not involve a second member of the U of T community, and thus do not fall under university jurisdiction. According to the interim report on human resources and equity, the centre took steps to address 56 reports of sexual violence in the last year under university policy.

Disclosure: Reut Cohen served as the 2018–2019 Managing Editor at The Varsity.

U of T’s 2019–2020 budget $88 million short of projections

Facing revenue decreases due to tuition cuts, university readjusts five-year budget

U of T’s 2019–2020 budget $88 million short of projections

Three days after U of T welcomed students back from the winter holidays, Vice-President and Provost Cheryl Regehr presented her assessor’s report to Governing Council’s Planning and Budget Committee (PBC). Within her 17-odd minute report, Regehr cited an excerpt of the provincial government’s ominous 2018 Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review: “The fiscal hole is deep. The road ahead is not an easy one, and it will require difficult decisions. Everyone in Ontario will be required to make sacrifices, without exception.”

This was the extent of the information available to the university at the time, and Regehr would proceed to speculate on the ramifications of the then-unknown — yet still expected — string of provincial government changes to postsecondary education finances. In response to a question from a committee member, Regehr cited the 2008 financial crisis as an example of how the university had responded to large-scale revenue losses in the past. During that period, the university lost $62 million — $73 million today when accounting for inflation. Could the government’s changes really be as impactful on the university as a global financial crisis?

With uncertainty in the air, Regehr summarized what the committee needed to know: “We anticipate that this will be difficult for us and we still need to find out how difficult.”

A week afterward, the provincial government announced its sweeping changes, including a 10 per cent cut to domestic tuition, Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) reforms, and the option for students to opt out of “non-essential” incidental fees. U of T’s recently released budget and long-range budget guideline proposals highlight the effects of these changes: a $65 million reduction compared to this year, and an $88 million reduction in revenue from original 2019–2020 projections.

The budget is an annual report that determines how operating revenue and expenditure is broadly managed across the university, while the accompanying long-range budget guidelines are the university’s projections for each of the next five academic years. The budget is balanced, meaning that revenue and expenditures are equal.

By the time the PBC convened again on February 27 to discuss and recommend the proposed 2019–2020 budget, much had changed.

Tuition

With the tuition changes taken into account, the university’s budgeted 2019–2020 operating revenue is $2.77 billion, approximately 3.5 per cent more than this year’s $2.68 billion operating revenue, but 1.7 per cent less than the previously projected $2.81 billion. Tuition and student fees constitute 62.7 per cent, or over $1.7 billion, of the budgeted revenue.

While the provincial government noted that everyone was required “to make sacrifices,” the university’s divisions are facing vastly different levels of sacrifice due to government changes. According to Vice-President Operations Scott Mabury, some divisions are facing a nine per cent decrease in operating revenues, while other divisions will see an 18 per cent increase. Divisions facing greater decreases to tuition revenue are, as expected, ones that are predominantly populated by domestic students. The second entry programs of medicine and dentistry, for example, will be more significantly impacted by the tuition cuts, as 98.7 and 99.3 per cent of their respective undergraduate intake this year pay domestic tuition rates.

According to the budget, academic divisions’ management of revenue losses will include “some combination of changes to faculty and staff hiring plans, deferral of capital projects, service reductions, and operating cost efficiencies.” The university will also allocate portions of its University Fund to support divisions most affected by the changes. Ten per cent of each division’s revenues are allocated to the fund, which then redistributes resources based on need. For example, in 2019–2020, the Arts & Science division will see an approximate net loss of $12.9 million from the fund, while the Dentistry division will receive approximately net $9.5 million.

While domestic tuition in 2020–2021 will be frozen at 2019–2020 levels, the long-range budget plan assumes a return to the three per cent year-on-year domestic tuition increase cap after this period.

Residence costs do not fall under the university’s tuition group and are instead considered cost-recovery ancillary fees, meaning that they are unaffected by the government’s changes.

Operating grants

The bulk of U of T’s remaining revenue comes from provincial operating grants, which will constitute 24.1 per cent of the overall 2019–2020 revenue. The provincial government has indicated that there will be no cuts to operating grants, although it has not formally committed to this position. The university’s core operating grant is $578.2 million per year. It also receives a graduate expansion grant, which is expected to increase from $11 million to $14.3 million in 2019–2020. Operating grant revenue is expected to rise by more than $10 million over five years, although the province has yet to approve these plans. The timeline for approval is unclear.

U of T’s dependence on operating grants has decreased over the years. When the  current budget model was established in 2006–2007, 45 per cent of the operating revenue came from operating grants. The university estimates that this will continue to decrease to 21 per cent of its operating revenue in 2023–2024. Mabury said that this is “almost perfectly matched” by the increased dependence on international student tuition, from seven per cent in 2006–2007 to 34 per cent in 2019–2020 and 38 per cent in 2023–2024.

As part of its existing Strategic Mandate Agreement (SMA) with the previous Liberal provincial government, the university must decrease domestic undergraduate seats by 1,800 students through 2020. Due to the terms of the SMA, the core operating grant is not expected to decrease despite decreases to domestic enrolment.

Expenditures

Fifty-nine per cent of the university’s 2019–2020 expenditures are set to cover academic faculty and staff compensation. This equates to $1.6 billion, of which $905 million goes to academic compensation and $720 million to staff compensation. Academic compensation refers to faculty, instructors, librarians, and teaching assistants, while staff compensation goes to administrative staff. U of T is planning to hire 51 additional faculty next year, although the budget notes that some of these hires may be delayed due to the revenue loss.

Overall student aid expenditure in 2019–2020 is set to $247.1 million, compared to the planned $233.6 million, which is also up from this year’s $224 million expenditure. The bulk of this increase comes from academic divisions, which have increased student aid expenditure to $119.2 million, $19.4 million more than originally planned. Due to the government easing domestic tuition costs, demand for the university’s program for needs-based aid to OSAP-eligible undergraduate students, the University of Toronto Advance Planning for Students, is set to decrease. U of T has accordingly decreased its funding to $39.9 million, a $6.9 million cut from its original 2019–2020 plans.

The Budget Report 2019-20 and Long Range Budget Guidelines 2019-20 to 2023-24 were unanimously recommended by the PBC on February 27. The budget still needs to be recommended by the Academic Board, Business Board, and Executive Committee before Governing Council votes to approve it on April 4.

Graduate Students’ Union’s failed AGM puts organization at risk of financial default

Tensions arise over concerns of financial transparency, opposition to presence of student media

Graduate Students’ Union’s failed AGM puts organization at risk of financial default

The membership of the University of Toronto Graduate Students’ Union (GSU) failed to pass the organization’s 20172018 audited financial statements at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) on December 3 due to a lack of quorum. According to the union’s finance commissioner, this puts the union at risk of defaulting to the university.

At the meeting, some GSU members complained that a draft report of the financial statements from the 20172018 fiscal year was not made available in their AGM packages, despite having to vote on the item. A portion of the meeting was spent debating how to logistically distribute the financial documents given the short notice.

Members were concerned over the failure to provide the financial statements in the agenda package. Members were supposed to receive the financial statements at least 13 days before the AGM.

Several members left the meeting out of frustration, though they suggested a future date for another general meeting.

After members left the room, the AGM lost quorum and the meeting was adjourned. A previously-scheduled General Council meeting was held immediately afterward.

During the General Council meeting, discussion followed on how to address the failure of the AGM to pass the 20172018 audited financial statements.

Finance Commissioner Branden Rizzuto claimed that the UTGSU would financially default to the university if the membership did not pass their audited financial statements for the past year.

During the General Council meeting, Rizzuto pointed out that The Varsitys reporters were live-tweeting that meeting and had live-tweeted the events of the AGM.

The Varsitys reporters were allowed to be present at the AGM on the condition that they neither take photographs nor live-tweet the events. Under direction from The Varsitys editors, the reporters purposefully ignored the condition to not live-tweet the events of the AGM.

Conditional seating is an unusual request at student union meetings, and this is the first time that Varsity reporters have been faced with conditions to their presence at a student governance meeting in recent years.

There was no vote or objection to keep the reporters in the room or to allow them to continue their work.

Since The Varsitys reporters were asked to leave the General Council meeting, it is unknown whether the audited financial statements were passed at that meeting.

Afterward, the UTGSU executive emailed The Varsity to say that The UTGSU General Council/Board-of-Directors unanimously accepted the Draft 2017-2018 Financial Audit at the General Council/Board-of-Directors meeting on December 3, 2018.”

“The UTGSU Executive Committee has been in communication with the University of Toronto Office of the Vice-Provost (Students) and they have indicated and confirmed that the UTGSU is in good financial standing with the University of Toronto,” wrote the executives.

“A motion to appoint a financial auditor for the 2018-2019 Fiscal Year will be presented at a future meeting of the General Membership. The UTGSU is not incorporated under the Ontario Not-For-Profit Corporations Act (ONCA) and is therefore not at risk of violating the Act.”

Editor’s Note (January 14, 2019, 5:32 pm): This article has been updated with the full comment from the UTGSU that The Varsity received on December 6, 2018. 

U of T proposed budget increases financial aid spending, capital projects on all three campuses

$2.676 billion in budgeted operating revenue is expected, an 8.2 per cent increase from last year

U of T proposed budget increases financial aid spending, capital projects on all three campuses

The University of Toronto released their proposed budget for the upcoming 2018–2019 fiscal year, which featured increased funding in financial aid, research opportunities, and graduate programs. The budget reports a total budgeted operating revenue of $2.676 billion, 8.2 per cent higher than the 2017–2018 budget.

Expenses in the proposed budget include large-scale building projects on all three campuses, including an increase in spending toward the total deferred maintenance liability, an increase in student aid, and grants and diversity initiatives.

$224 million is budgeted toward student aid for the 2018–2019 fiscal year. This figure is expected to grow to $260 million over five years. The increase in spending on financial aid can be attributed to the university’s policy on student financial support. The statement principle outlines that, “No student offered admission to a program at the University of Toronto should be unable to enter or complete the program due to lack of financial means”.

The proposed budget also aims to fund diversity and equity initiatives. A total of $3 million over a course of three years will be allocated to coordinate access programs for students from underrepresented groups on campus. Similarly, $3 million over a course of three years will be set aside to fund postdoctoral fellowships for individuals from underrepresented groups. In turn, this will diversify the amount of minority scholars across the country.

Deferred maintenance has been a critical issue, costing the university $549 million in liabilities this year. Of that $549 million cost, UTSG accounts for $478 million with an increase of $4 million compared to last year. UTSC and UTM campuses saw decreases of $2 million and $4 million, respectively. $18 million has been allotted for deferred maintenance repairs, specifically at the St. George campus, while $2.5 million are set aside for the UTM and UTSC campus in their respective budgets.

OSAP                                                                                                          

Changes in the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) were also included in the report. The program was changed to include free tuition for students from low and middle-income families, 30 per cent off tuition grants, and opportunity-based grants for students to reduce loan debt. 55 per cent of U of T students receive OSAP payments.

Funding for the University of Toronto Advanced Planning for Students program (UTAPS) is also projected to increase by an additional $13 million over the planning period. UTAPS gives grants to OSAP eligible students based on financial need.

Revenues

Much of the university’s operating revenue is obtained through provincial operating grants, tuition, and various student fees. Tuition and grant revenue for 2018–2019 is projected to be $2.336 billion, a 2.5 per cent increase compared to the $2.279 billion projected last year. Similarly, large endowments from the university’s greater community have also contributed over $2.38 billion to the operating revenue.

This year, a maximum three per cent increase will be added to tuition for Arts & Science students. Tuition fees for graduate and professional program students may also be increased by a maximum of five per cent. The university has also proposed to align tuition fees for international PhD students with the domestic rate.

The university recently signed a new Strategic Mandate Agreement (SMA2) with the province of Ontario. The agreement aims to re-establish the university’s leadership role in research and innovation in Ontario. SMA2 aims to include funding for 631 new master’s student spaces and 198 new doctoral student spaces by fall 2019.

Governing Council will vote on the $2.68 billion proposed operating budget for the 2018–2019 fiscal year on April 5

Keeping your financial house in order

To prevent theft, fraud, and mismanagement, student leaders must enact changes to policy and institutional culture

Keeping your financial house in order

Over the past few years, stories of financial mismanagement within student societies at U of T have regularly appeared in the pages of The Varsity. For example, it is suspected that money was stolen from the Victoria University Students’ Administrative Council (VUSAC) office twice in two years, and money was recently believed to have been stolen from a locker rented by the Undergraduate Earth Sciences Association. Alongside these alleged thefts, there have been concerns over potential misspending and discrepancies in financial disclosures by the Cinema Studies Student Union, as well as ongoing concerns regarding the St. Michael’s College Student Union (SMCSU).

Student societies are not treating finances with sufficient professionalism. Much attention is often understandably focused on the most egregious allegations; stories about hidden bank accounts and lawsuits over $277,000 in alleged fraud are exciting, while petty theft of $500 is not. However, the repercussions of ignoring more minor issues of mismanagement are just as pressing as those stemming from higher-profile stories.

During our tenure on VUSAC in the 2016–2017 academic year, we investigated the theft of revenue from the Code Red semi-formal event, and we implemented financial management policies in response. We believe that theft and mismanagement can be countered through strong policies and professional culture, both of which are often lacking in student groups.

The recent suspected theft from the Victoria College Drama Society (VCDS) from within the VUSAC office is similar to last year’s theft of ticket revenue from Code Red. VCDS is its own autonomous group at Vic, and thus it is not bound by VUSAC’s new policies. However, the repetitiveness and similarity of these occurrences, both at VUSAC and elsewhere, have led us to believe that there are root causes of financial malpractice across all student societies, with solutions that are equally applicable across campus.

After investigating the Code Red scandal, in which roughly $500 in ticket sales went missing, we concluded that there were two central problems with money management at VUSAC. First, the fact that money was stolen so easily from a cash box demonstrated fundamental flaws regarding how money was stored after events. Second, poor record-keeping resulted in our inability to identify exactly how much cash should have been on hand given the number of tickets sold.

To ensure money was handled more responsibly, we put together a policy document mandating that the member of council in charge of any given event be responsible for the storage and security of cash revenue generated, and we laid out a step-by-step process for how to secure cash generated through in-person sales. We also put together record-keeping guidelines for ticket sales in order to ensure accountability and accuracy if theft does occur.

The lessons we learned at VUSAC last year have broad applicability, even beyond issues of petty theft. In 2017, the University College Literary & Athletic Society (UCLit) was faced with a budget shortfall after unpaid expenses from their orientation week were discovered. UCLit dealt with the outstanding expenses via a contingency fund designed for precisely that kind of financial misstep. Better record-keeping may have prevented these expenses from being unpaid in the first place, and, at minimum, could have allowed for the people involved to recognize their mistake earlier.

The UC Orientation Co-Chairs took responsibility for their actions and should be commended for their accountability. Despite the numerous precautions that can prevent deliberate malfeasance, mistakes will inevitably occur, and it is thus important for those involved to be accountable and transparent when mistakes happen.

Unfortunately, not everyone is as prepared as UCLit appeared to be. From our time at VUSAC, we learned that even well-intentioned people can make mistakes. With so many moving parts of a large organization, it took a few weeks for us to find out about the theft and investigate. We also found that the budgeting process was inflexible to unexpected changes from individual components within the budget, resulting in little room to manoeuvre when reconciling the budget projections with the financial realities.

This is not, however, to suggest budgeting processes should be looser. Rather, constraints on the ability of students to reallocate money are essential, as they ensure financial transparency throughout the budgeting process. Student leaders at other societies should expect these limitations, and they should plan for the eventuality of financial complications.

Moving beyond policy, student societies faced with financial mismanagement also require a culture shift to actually achieve the operational changes we have highlighted. Ideally, a more engaged student population can hold its leaders accountable. The reality, however, is that students lead busy lives and often do not have the time to pore over budgets and policies. In absence of more extensive student involvement, it is incumbent on student leaders to create an institutional culture that promotes financial accountability and best practices.

Enforcement of student society policies remains weak, and student leaders face few — if any — repercussions for breaching them. But firmly establishing operating policies can have positive effects in terms of institutional culture and allow future generations of students to learn best practices and establish norms that carry over year to year.

Losing or misplacing student funds should always be taken seriously. If mismanagement escalates, the repercussions may range well beyond the financial. Student societies that continue to engage in financial malpractice may see a loss in their independence. One need only look as far as SMCSU to see the result of continued malfeasance: the requirement of co-signing authority of administration on all financial decisions over $500. If student societies hope to retain their independence, it is essential that they keep their financial houses in order.

Peter Huycke is a graduate student in the School of Public Policy and Governance. He graduated from Victoria College in 2017 and served as VUSAC’s interim Finance Chair from January 2017 to the end of the 2016–2017 academic year.

Stephen Warner is a graduate student in the Department of Political Science. He graduated from Victoria College in 2017 and served as Vice-President External of VUSAC during the 2016–2017 academic year.

U of T’s debt remains at $1 billion

Numbers reported to Business Board show $11 million increase since July 2015

U of T’s debt remains at $1 billion

The University of Toronto’s debt sits at a cool $1 billion dollars as of August 31, 2016, according to the status report on debt presented to the Business Board on September 22.

The $1 billion debt has remained a constant figure in the university’s financial record since June 2014, when the outstanding debt initially surpassed $1 billion. The total amount of debt has fluctuated only marginally since then, sitting at $1.012 billion in July 2015. The actual outstanding debt for the University now totals $1.023 billion, an $11 million increase from the 2015 figures.

The university allocates a debt limit of 5 per cent of the University’s annual expenditures. The status report shows that the actual outstanding debt currently sits at 3.5 per cent of expenditures, well within the Business Board’s $1.5 billion limitation for the 2016–2017 year.

Of that 3.5 per cent, 1.2 per cent comes from internal loans. This includes the university’s pension debt — $121 million — which totals 0.4 per cent of the internal loans. The remaining 2.3 per cent stems from external debts, due to institutions outside of the university.

Of the university’s external debt, $715.8 million is tied up in external debentures, which are unsecured loans without the backing of assets. This is a slight decrease from the $717.6 million outlined in the February 2016 status report on debt.

The report notes that net allocations, borrowing that is approved by the Business Board, stood at $1.2 billion up to August 31, with $220.1 million available for future allocation. This amount includes an allocation change of $1.9 million.

U of T financial reports show decrease in endowments, income

University’s credit rating stronger than Province of Ontario’s

U of T financial reports show decrease in endowments, income

The university’s financial report and report on debt were presented to Governing Council’s Business Board last month, revealing decreased income and endowment figures.

Net income for the university fell 26.8 per cent to $210.6 million and the university reported almost $2.10 billion in endowments, which is a 2.1 per cent decrease from the over $2.14 billion that was reported last year. U of T’s pension plan’s deficit increased from $617.4 million in 2015 to $797.4 million in 2016. The university attributes this increase to investment returns on pension plan assets falling below expectations.

Demand from students to study at U of T remains high, with student enrollment increasing by 3.51 percent from 2015 to 77,130 students in 2016. Revenues from student fees reached $1.292 billion.

With the rise in student population, the limits of the university’s infrastructure have been pushed. Repairs and maintenance costs went up 16.3 per cent while materials and supplies costs increased by 6.9 per cent from a year ago.

The university also spent a substantial amount on its investment in the MaRS Phase 2 project. In September 2015, the University of Toronto partnered up with the Government of Ontario, MaRS and Johnson & Johnson, a consumer packaged goods manufacturer, to establish JLAB, a business incubator that is designed to accommodate up to 50 bio-medical start-ups. The 40,000 square foot facility will occupy a floor of the MaRS West Tower and will compose 75% of laboratories and digital equipment while the rest of the space will be dedicated to collaborative work spaces.

The report paints an optimistic view of the financial outlook in 2017 stating that: “Revenues are expected to increase modestly over the next several years as a result of continuing growth at the Scarborough and Mississauga campuses, graduate expansion, and increasing international enrolment.”

According to the status report on debt, U of T’s total debt for the year came to $992.5 million. Much of it consisted of future obligations to bond payers. As well, the university’s credit ratings are Aa2 (Moody’s), AA+ (Standard & Poor’s) and AA (Dominion Bond Services), which ranks the university as a strong investment-grade credit; two credit rating agencies rated the university above the province of Ontario.