Tuition Fees Increase UofWindsor and UofGuelph  Banner Image

Tuition Fees Increase UofWindsor and UofGuelph

Article from the Guelph Tribune
By Doug Hallett
Photo from the Windsor Star
by Dan Janisse

The U of G’s Board of Governors has relieved cost-cutting pressure on the university’s colleges for the 2016-17 academic year, while approving increases in student tuition of mostly around three per cent.

A target to achieve $7.8 million worth of savings in the coming academic year, as part of a multi-year plan to deal with financial problems at the university, has been cancelled.

This was possible because the university’s financial position has improved, mainly because enrolment has exceeded expectations, said U of G provost Charlotte Yates.

“The multi-year-plan budget targets were set in place five years ago to ensure that we avoided deficits and covered our cost increases based on flat enrolments, and those reductions helped us achieve the cost savings we needed,” Yates explained in an email responding to a Tribune query.

As well, the university’s 2015-16 operating budget anticipated an enrolment decline of about 350 students, she said.

“Enrolment ended up exceeding targets,” Yates said, “and for 2016-17 we set enrolment targets that matched these results” – namely the full-time equivalent of 19,500 undergraduate and 2,300 graduate students.

By setting a higher enrolment target than initially planned for the coming academic year, the U of G “can use the additional revenues to eliminate Year 3” of the multi-year-plan budget targets, Yates said.

Asked what the main effects will be of cancelling these cost-cutting targets, she said that Year 3 of the current multi-year plan targeted savings of $7.8 million in the 2016-17 academic year.

“A portion of the increased revenue from increasing the enrolment targets will be used to cover this amount in the 2016-17 operating budget, which means that the colleges need not find the cost savings in their respective budgets,” she told the Tribune.

The general operating budget approved by the Board of Governors last Wednesday is a balanced budget, a U of G news release said.

“I am delighted to report that the university is in a sound financial position,” U of G president Franco Vaccarino said in the release.

The general operating budget is the largest component of the university’s $725 million in annual revenue, accounting for $420 million.

The approved budget for 2016-17 includes $4 million earmarked for new student assistance programs and about $20 million in new available revenues, resulting mostly from higher than expected enrolments in the previous fiscal year, the release said.

As allowed under the Ontario’s tuition framework, tuition at U of G will increase by 2.9 per cent in the coming academic year for most entering and continuing undergraduate domestic students. Students in professional programs will pay 3.35 per cent more in the next academic year, while tuition for graduate students will rise by three per cent, the release said.

No provincial framework exists for international student tuition rates, it said. U of G tuition fees for new international students will go up by five per cent in 2016-17, but there will be no increase in tuition for continuing international students.

Most of the $4.5 million in revenue from tuition increases will go directly to assistance programs for undergraduate and graduate students, Yates said. “We feel this is a progressive approach and makes U of G accessible and attractive to a wide range of students, which is important in an increasingly competitive market,” she said in the release.

The U of G’s Central Student Association criticized the tuition hikes. “The Board of Governors has increased tuition fees each year since 2006, resulting in increases of over $2,000 to $7,000, depending on the program,” said a CSA news release issued shortly before the Board of Governors meeting. It said students want a tuition freeze and more government funding for post-secondary education.

Yates said the new budget allows the university to invest in high-priority areas, such as student aid, a competitive compensation structure and core campus infrastructure, including informal learning spaces for students, buildings, health and safety, and information technology.

Salaries and benefits for faculty and staff account for 70 per cent of expenses in the operating budget. The budget also covers utilities and capital infrastructure, capital debt repayments, and funding for critical investments, academic programs and administrative support services, the release said.

Capital investments contained in the 2016-17 budget include $10 million for new learning and teaching facilities at the Ontario Veterinary College to supplement a $23-million provincial grant, $27 million in capital renewal programs for the main campus and student housing, and $8 million for renovations to the library and to student gathering spaces in the University Centre.