The UPEI Board of Governors approved a balanced operating budget for the 2014–15 year at its April meeting that keeps tuition rates among the lowest in the Maritimes and avoids core program cuts or layoffs.
The Board’s approval is the last step in a process that began last August when UPEI’s President and Vice-Chancellor Alaa Abd-El-Aziz began planning earlier than in previous years, in order to give the campus more time to develop the budget proposal.
“The operating budget is the key strategic document used for planning and funding operating expenditures of the University, therefore, the Budget Committee began its work following the approval of last year’s budget,” said President Abd-El-Aziz. “The budget proposal to the Board of Governors was prepared with input from the University community through the Directors and Chairs, Deans, and Vice-Presidents.”
Through careful financial management, UPEI was able to sustain existing student programs and services. The University’s approach was to look at ways to increase revenues while reducing expenditure budgets in a three-year budget scenario.
University revenues are used to cover core-operating costs including wages, utilities, equipment replacement and supply cost increases. The principal sources of funding are the provincial government operating grant and student tuition.
“We appreciate that post-secondary education continues to be a priority for the Government of PEI,” added President Abd-El-Aziz. “The provincial government core operating grant constituted 50% of total UPEI revenue in 2013–14.” In the latest provincial budget, UPEI’s operating grant stayed the same.
Undergraduate tuition will rise by 3%, as compared to last year’s increase of 4%. This increase represents $16 per course or $160 per year for a student taking a full course load. International student fees will also increase by 3%.
UPEI Student Union President Anastasia Smallwood said, “While the Student Union cannot support a tuition increase, we understand that the University faces a number of budgetary pressures as do other post-secondary institutions across the country. We do appreciate being included in discussions about the budget and are pleased that the budget does not include any cuts to core student programs and services, or any increases to ancillary student fees, such as the Athletics and Administration fees.”
Throughout the budget process, administrators across campus worked to minimize the impact on UPEI’s most valuable resource—people—by reducing non-salary expenditures as much as possible. While the proportion of the operating budget allocated to salaries and benefits remains high at 72%, UPEI was able to prevent layoffs through vacancy management and attrition.
Normal inflationary effects, salary increments, pension commitments, benefit costs, heat, electricity, deferred maintenance, continue to be other cost drivers.
The operating budget does not include research funds, which are budgeted separately on a project-by-project basis but does include the budget of departments that provide support to research.
Capital projects are also budgeted on a project-by-project basis and reported within the capital assets fund.
The 2014–15 Operating Budget can be viewed here