FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
From the Board of Governors Meeting – Friday, January 30, 2009
Trent to Advocate at the Provincial Level for New Investments in Operating Budget
University faces a projected $7.8-Million Operating Deficit for 2009-10
Trent University’s Board of Governors were advised at today’s Board meeting that the University will renew its efforts to advocate at the highest levels of the provincial government for increased investments in the face of a significant projected operating deficit next year.
Without increases in provincial operating grants the University will face a projected deficit of $7.8-million in 2009-10. This potential gap represents 8.2 per cent of the University’s total operating budget.
“Trent will continue to advocate at the highest levels in the provincial government for additional resources,” said Don O’Leary, vice-president, administration. “We appreciate the financial support we receive from the province and are especially grateful for how our local MPP continuously advocates on behalf of Trent at the provincial level.”
Mr. O’Leary added, “The reality is that Trent is facing the same operating deficits that a number of Ontario universities are coping with. The volatility in the markets, which is seriously undermining returns on endowment and pension investments, is adding to this economic uncertainty. Only new, multi-year investments will stop this cycle of operating deficits and allow Trent to properly plan for its future.”
Next year’s budget follows a challenging fiscal year in 2008-09 in which the University faced a $10.5 million operating deficit due to:
- Continual structural deficit as universities do not receive sufficient revenues from either tuition or governmental funding to meet obligations
- Enrolment shortfall of budgeted full time equivalent students
- Changes in government grant policies
- Increased operating costs, no funding for inflation, tuition fee caps, combined with contractual increase for salaries and benefits, and other one-time costs.
The operating deficit in 2008-09 resulted in the elimination of 54 full time equivalent positions at Trent.
The sector’s advocacy programs are targeted at a number of key areas for increased government support including:
- A commitment by the province to renew its funding in postsecondary education with investments in a new ‘Reaching Higher 2’ plan, including investments promoting student access
- Increases for operating funding for Ontario’s universities including inflation
- Renewed investments for deferred maintenance
- Relief for endowment and pension losses due to market volatility
The Deferred Maintenance Report to the Board confirms that Trent’s total deferred maintenance liability exceeds $17.2-million.
The report recognizes the significant investment by the province in Trent’s deferred maintenance challenges in 2008. Last year, Trent received $2.2-million through the Campus Renewal Program and another $3.2-million through a separate University Campus Renewal Grant. Through its Board-approved philanthropic strategy, Trent has secured additional sources of funding from donors including $2.1-million for the renovation of Traill College.
While the deferred maintenance funds were welcomed by the University, the recommendations contained in the 2005 Rae Report on Postsecondary Education advocating that facilities renewal funding for universities be increased five fold to 2015 were never implemented. Deferred maintenance funding is integral to the University’s operations and covers a range of projects on the following descending level of priority:
- Health and safety
- Legislative requirements
- Preventative maintenance (to avert catastrophic failure)
- Program support (students, teaching, operations)
- Energy management (reduce operating costs, short payback period)
- Ensure mission critical equipment/systems continue to perform (roof and structural systems, water and power supply)
- Risk management
- Long term planning (how does the project fit with longer-term capital plans)
Trent University is a major employer and economic driver in the Peterborough regional economy. In 2008, the economic impact of the University on the local economy was valued at $281-million.
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For more information, please contact:
Don Cumming, Senior Director, Public Affairs & Government Relations, (705) 748-1011, ext 6181