Frequently Asked Questions – Operating Budget 2012-2013

  1. Why is The University of Winnipeg suddenly facing a budget crunch?

The provincial government provides approximately 50% of the University’s operating revenues through a grant. Undergraduate and graduate student tuition and fees provide approximately 28% of the University’s operating revenues.

The budget squeeze at UWinnipeg has been building over a number of years due to three main causes:

a) We receive a much smaller operating grant per student from the province than other Manitoba universities which is exacerbated as a result of our increasing enrolments.

b) We must honour significant pension commitments resulting from changes in actuarial assumptions and decisions made by past administrations;

c) A decade-long tuition freeze means less funding for operations;

This combination means UWinnipeg will have to cut $1 million from last year’s operating budget in order to produce a balanced budget this year as required by law.

  1. Why does UWinnipeg receive a smaller grant from the province than other universities?

Our provincial grant in 2010 was $6,500 per student, where Brandon University and the University of Manitoba each received $12,000 per student.

This is a discrepancy that goes back decades without good reason. This discrepancy has been multiplied by the rapid enrollment growth at the University of Winnipeg over the past decade (55% increase) which was significantly higher than the other institutions. The Manitoba Government does not link operating grants to enrollment unlike many other Provinces.

The impact on us is substantial. The University has been working with the Provincial Government to address the inequality for several years, including a proposal to increase the University’s grant by $6 million over 4 years made in 2008. The Province provided the first $2 million of this plan, and had the remainder been received, UWinnipeg would have received an additional $8.5 million over the past four years, and our annual operating grant would have risen by $4 million annually for future years. Those funds would allow us to hire more faculty, improve student services, upgrade technology infrastructure and start to meet our pension commitments.

  1. How are you planning to meet your budget shortfall this year?

The University’s budget process is a consultative one. The budget team has met with the Deans and departmental managers on campus as well as the Senate’s Budget Advisory Committee to identify the most appropriate way to balance the budget. We are focusing on increasing revenues where possible, while any cuts will be designed to minimize their impact on student experience. Ultimately the Board of Regents approves the budget for the University.

  1. What impact do all the new buildings at UWinnipeg have on your operating budget?

There is no negative impact. Building projects are funded from the Capital budget, which is separate and distinct from the Operating budget. The new buildings on campus are possible only because of generous donors.

Our successful capital campaign has attracted $130 million in private/government donations to our campus and community. New construction has added 200,000 badly needed net square feet to campus. Even so, we have just 132 sq ft of space per student, placing us near the bottom of Universities in Canada.

Costs associated with maintaining new facilities have been offset by provincial adjustments to our operating grant, by savings and/or new revenues. We no longer lease expensive space around the city and we have increased campus revenues through retail and other community and commercial partnerships. The Buhler Centre is a prime example of this, where we reallocated monies being paid to a third party landlord to pay for the mortgage and operating costs of a building we own with a partner.

  1. What impact will this budget have on students who are already enrolled and trying to graduate?

All students enrolled in the University of Winnipeg will be able to take their required courses in order to graduate within their departments. Accommodating the needs of students is our number one budget priority. Our Vice-President, Academic is continuing discussions with the departmental Chairs and Deans to ensure required courses are available.

  1. What will this mean to new students thinking about coming to UWinnipeg?

There is no impact for new students. UWinnipeg remains committed to providing what we are known for nationally: small class sizes, quality relationships with professors, and academic excellence. In fact UWinnipeg is consistently ranked in the Top-10 in the country on an annual basis by both Maclean’s Magazine and The Globe & Mail newspaper for academic excellence, Indigenous scholarship, environmental commitment, small class sizes and for nurturing “Leaders of Tomorrow.”

There has never been a better time to study at UWinnipeg. We have made significant investments in our faculty and student services in recent years while building the most modern science complex in Canada with more than 30 new teaching and research labs; we have a newly renovated Theatre and Film facility; we have a newly-constructed building to house our popular Business and Economics Faculty; and this spring we begin construction of a new Field House and Health and Wellness Complex which will house our new Faculty of Kinesiology.

  1. What impact is the budget crunch having on professors and sessional instructors at UWinnipeg?

Even within this budget constraint, for the 2012-2013 academic year, we have so far committed to hiring 18 faculty and sessional instructors with more than half of those positions dedicated to the Faculty of Arts. More positions are pending working out the details with our Deans and Faculty Association. This is in addition to an unprecedented 31 faculty positions added in last year’s operating budget. Our Vice-President, Academic is continuing discussions with the departmental Chairs and Deans to best accommodate their teaching needs.

  1. When will we see the final operating budget for this coming year?

The senior executive team will bring forward a final Operating Budget for the University’s Board of Regents approval in May or June, 2012.

  1. How do you intend to address the structural funding problem at UWinnipeg in the longer term? (next year and the year after that?)

The University is working hard to identify new revenue sources which are outside of government control, complementary to the University’s strengths, and can be used to subsidize our core operations. Some examples of these are the commercialization of research in partnership with our Faculty Members, expansion of our professional studies, English language and Collegiate programs.

Since 2000 the University of Winnipeg’s grant per student has increased 6%, while the University of Manitoba’s has increased 34% and Brandon University’s has increased by 49%, simply by virtue of the University of Winnipeg being more successful at achieving the Province’s stated goal of increasing post secondary participation.

It is clear the funding system for universities in Manitoba is broken and in desperate need of transparent review. We will continue to work with the Provincial Government in efforts to address the funding disparity between the University of Winnipeg and the other Manitoba universities.

Click here for a one page OPERATING BUDGET QUICK FACTS


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