UWinnipeg Forced To Make Tough Choices As Provincial Funding Stagnates

WINNIPEG, MB – Last night, The University of Winnipeg's Board of Regents approved an operating budget for 2017-2018 which preserves academic excellence and student supports while eliminating $3.7 million in costs in order to achieve a balanced budget as required by provincial legislation.

The new cost reductions are in addition to years of belt-tightening. UWinnipeg is one of the most efficient universities in the country. Over the past decade, UWinnipeg has demonstrated fiscal prudence, streamlining administrative operations and cutting more than $16 million in annual expenses from its operating budget. Additionally, since July 1, 2016, UWinnipeg has eliminated 15% of senior management positions.

Historical imbalance

 UWinnipeg receives a much smaller annual operating grant per student from the province than any other Manitoba university. The University of Manitoba and Brandon University receive operating grants almost double that received by UWinnipeg. This disparity goes back decades and requires UWinnipeg to operate with $42 to $57 million less in revenue per year.   

Ongoing requests by UWinnipeg for "catch up" funding were heard with the Manitoba government agreeing to phase it in. We received a special $1.5 million grant for 2016-2017, but no additional catch up grant for 2017-2018. UWinnipeg continues to operate with a significant funding gap.
 
For this fiscal year, the government of Manitoba has frozen post-secondary operating grants, provided no "catch up" grant specific to UWinnipeg, and limited tuition increases to 1.3% (this equates to approximately $63 more for the year for the average UWinnipeg student.)

The considerable gap between revenues and expenses necessitates tough choices. In order to preserve academic excellence and front-line student services to the best of our ability, UWinnipeg has elected not to reduce expenses across the board, but rather, to take a targeted approach that aligns with its Strategic Directions and priorities as approved by the Board of Regents.

Providing a 2017-18 balanced operating budget

UWinnipeg is undertaking the following measures:
Personnel:

  • Management restructuring has eliminated 4.5 senior positions which will remain vacant
  • Dean of Science, Dean of Kinesiology and Director of Global College positions will be filled by internal candidates on an acting basis for fiscal year
  • New tenure track faculty hires are extremely limited, resulting in approximately five fewer faculty positions compared to last year
  • Salaries for non-unionized staff frozen for 2017 and 2018 (approx. 100 positions), including senior executive team
  • Voluntary Days Without Pay program for staff provides $120,000 in payroll savings
  • Numerous support staff positions will remain vacant this year in order to achieve budgeted targets
 

Athletic restructuring
UWinnipeg remains committed to the outstanding Wesmen teams with deep history in our community.  In recent years new sports teams have been added to the roster which are no longer fiscally sustainable. UWinnipeg has initiated a resettlement process with student athletes impacted by this restructuring.  Effective spring 2017, UWinnipeg is eliminating the following:

 
  • Men's baseball; Men's wrestling
  • Women's wrestling
  • Men's soccer - on pause for 2017-18. The coach position is currently vacant and we cannot afford to replace that position for the upcoming fiscal year
 

The following Wesmen teams remain intact:

 
  • Men's basketball
  • Men's volleyball
  • Women's basketball
  • Women's volleyball
  • Women's soccer

 

Preserving academic excellence

Despite the significant challenges posed by the provincial grant allocation, UWinnipeg continues to make strategic investments in budget 2017-18 to strengthen teaching, research and student success, including:

 
  • Creation of a teaching hub to support teaching resources and pedagogy (replacing the Centre for Teaching and Learning Technology)
  • Increased support for Indigenous students with financial need through an enhanced partnership with Indspire
  • Maintaining library acquisitions following a 15% increase in library budget last year
  • Strengthening a diversified revenue stream with increased contributions to the operating budget from the Collegiate, English Language Program and Professional, Applied and Continuing Education division.
UWinnipeg is a nimble and resilient organization with outstanding teaching and research faculty, and dedicated front-line staff. We will continue to challenge and nurture the next generation of Manitoba leaders.

2017-2018 OPERATING BUDGET PRIMER – May 2017

 1: OVERVIEW

The University of Winnipeg's annual budget for 2017-2018 is $140 million, which includes the operating budget and about $17.5 million in restricted revenues related to research, donations and other restricted grants.
 
The University's 2017-2018 operating budget is $122.5 million and made up of revenues from a variety of sources:

 

  • 51% from the provincial government through an annual operating grant
  • 27% from provincially-approved tuition and fees
  • 22% other grants and revenue, such as rent paid by third parties and tuition and fees for continuing education programs
The operating budget is informed by UWinnipeg's three year budget strategy, and aligns with its Strategic Directions as approved by the Board of Regents.

The three year budget strategy assumes student enrollment and academic staffing remain stable, with reduced administrative costs and increased revenue-generating opportunities.

The bulk of UWinnipeg's operating budget -- 71% -- is dedicated to salaries and benefits.

UWinnipeg currently has 9,338 full and part-time students and approximately 370 faculty. Our

2017-18 budget assumes stable domestic enrolment and a 5% increase in international enrolment.

2: DOING MORE WITH LESS

Efficiencies

Over the past decade, UWinnipeg has streamlined administrative operations and cut more than $16 million in annual expenses from its operating budget. Additionally, since July 1, 2016, UWinnipeg has eliminated 15% of senior management positions. UWinnipeg's administrative expenditure as a % of budget is among the lowest in the country (CAUBO 2014-2015).

In recent years, UWinnipeg has relied heavily on vacancy management (delaying the hiring of support staff) to manage the operating budget. Vacancy management has shaved approximately $5 million from the budget annually.

Diversified revenues

UWinnipeg's three year budget strategy seeks to diversify revenues through increased contributions from business units such as parking, leases to third parties, as well as increased fundraising and returns from academic units like, Professional, Applied and Continuing Education and English Language Programs and the Collegiate. The University will also focus on identifying more external research funding sources.   

3: FISCAL PRESSURES

Tuition – how we compare

Tuition fees were frozen in Manitoba for a decade by the provincial government followed by several years of modest increases tied to the cost of living. Manitoba currently has the third lowest tuition rates for post-secondaries in Canada (only Quebec and Newfoundland/Labrador are lower). Tuition for a full time annual course load:

 
  • Canadian average = $5,959
  • Manitoba average = $3,887
Our neighbours are much higher:
Ontario average = $7,539

Saskatchewan average = $6,659.

Statistics Canada Centre for Education Statistics (2015)

UWinnipeg remains one of the most affordable places in Canada for international students to study. Compared to other universities our size (5,000 to 10,000 students), we are in the lower quarter in terms of our tuition and fees for international students. Additionally, accommodation  costs in Winnipeg are more affordable than many Canadian cities.

 Historical imbalance

UWinnipeg receives a proportionately smaller annual operating grant on a per student basis from the province than any of the other Manitoba universities. The University of Manitoba and Brandon University receive operating grants of almost double that received by UWinnipeg on a per student basis. This disparity goes back decades.   Parity in funding would increase UWinnipeg's funding by over $40 million per year.

Ongoing requests by UWinnipeg for "catch up" funding were heard with the Manitoba government agreeing to phase it in. We received a special $1.5 million grant for 2016-2017, but no additional catch up grant for 2017-2018. UWinnipeg continues to operate with a significant funding gap.

 Compared to similar sized institutions across Canada, UWinnipeg receives among the lowest revenue per student ($3,442 less than average per student.) That difference means UWinnipeg has $27 million less per year to work with than similar institutions like Lakehead, Laurentian, and Lethbridge Universities.

 Pension challenge

Changes in actuarial assumptions have resulted in a pension-related deficit in six of the past seven fiscal years. UWinnipeg's Defined Benefit pension plan closed in 2000. The majority of UWinnipeg's faculty and staff are now in a more sustainable Defined Contribution pension plan.  UWinnipeg expects to eliminate the pension deficit by 2018-2019.