The Ring

Budget framework 2014/15

Thu, 2014-04-03 06:34

The University of Victoria's Board of Governors this week approved a $323 million operating budget framework for the university with no budget reductions for 2014/15.

The university was able to develop a balanced budget for the fiscal year starting April 1 despite a reduction in government funding and an increase in expenses, due to reductions implemented in 2013/14, cost containment measures, and strong growth in student enrolment.

"This current year of no budget reductions is possible because of difficult decisions made by all faculties and units last year, and the strong performance by faculty and staff in making this a "university of choice" for students, and in attracting the resources we need to deliver on our mission of research and education," says President Jamie Cassels. "We're not out of the woods yet, but we are working together to build on our current planning processes to face new challenges."

The 2014/15 budget framework was developed through the university's integrated planning process led by Vice-President Academic and Provost Reeta Tremblay. Its goal is to ensure that the university’s financial resources are aligned with institutional priorities and areas of strategic focus.

The priorities for 2014/15 include student recruitment and success, faculty engagement and retention, the quality of academic and research programs, educational technology, sustaining research excellence and fundraising among others.

Over the next year, a working group will be recommending to the integrated planning group a set of criteria that can be used by decision makers to assess quality and to align activities in support of institutional priorities as outlined in the strategic plan and the president’s Conversations Report that followed his campus-wide consultations.

The university’s operating budget is supported primarily through the provincial government operating grant, student fees and other funding sources.

UVic estimates its total revenue for 2014/15 to be $322.86 million, including a decrease in the provincial operating grant of $1.9 million. As in previous years, and consistent with Ministry of Advanced Education policy, tuition fee increases are limited to 2 per cent – the rate of inflation.

Expenditures are budgeted at $322.86 million and include new allocations of $2.2 million for contractual compensation obligations, $1.77 million for additional international and student support, $0.94 million to support growth in other targeted areas and $1.6 million to meet regulatory or other requirements.

Since 2006-07, the university has developed its annual budget framework, financial models and plans within the context of a three-year planning cycle. The longer planning horizon provides a more realistic time-frame for the development of university initiatives and provides greater flexibility than permitted within an annual process.

The budget projections for 2015-16 and 2016-17 estimate budget shortfalls of $1.8M and $0.5M respectively.  While it will be challenging to address these annual budget shortfalls given the university has made budget reductions of 9% over the last few year, these projections are more positive than previously expected. This can be attributed to three main reasons:

  • International enrolment targets that were projected to be achieved over three years were achieved in one year
  • This framework assumes that the provincial government will fund compensation costs resulting from collective bargaining whereas the previous budget framework did not
  • Salary and benefit changes have been updated to reflect provincial mandates

These projections could change significantly if government funding for compensation is different than the full funding currently anticipated within this framework. As well, the actual amount of any reduction in the provincial operating grant is not yet known for 2015-16.

More details about the university's priorities, the components of the budget framework approved by the board on April 1, and the budget planning process can be found in the 2014/15 planning and operating budget framework document (PDF) and on the budget planning website.