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Trent University Board of Governors Approves Interim Balanced Operating Budget for 2005-06


Board looks to provincial budget for funding to support the Rae review of postsecondary education recommendations

From the Board of Governors' Meeting - April 29, 2005, Peterborough

Trent University's Board of Governors today approved an interim balanced operating budget of $69,492,000 for the 2005-06 fiscal year.

It is the intent to present a final budget for 2005-06 to the Board at the next scheduled meeting, likely in June, following the release of the provincial budget. An interim budget, as opposed to a final budget, was tabled at this time recognizing the recent recommendations for increased funding for universities in the Rae review of postsecondary education. Trent, along with all Ontario universities, is looking to the provincial budget for follow-through on these recommendations; a date for the release of the provincial budget has not been announced.

Highlights of the budget include:

  • Full and part-time domestic undergraduate, graduate student, and graduate international fees will not increase in 2005-06

  • International undergraduate student differential fees will increase by three per cent which will move Trent from tenth to ninth position among the 18 universities in the province (Note: international students pay two fees – domestic and differential)

  • The provincial government has confirmed a change in operating funding for Trent at UOIT programs that results in a positive increase of $394,000 in the budget

  • As per benchmarking studies, an additional investment of up to $185,000 will be made in three under-invested areas – information technology, library acquisitions and physical resources (in 2004-05 and 2005-06)

  • A graduate student scholarship reserve of $100,000 has been created

  • A new investment of up to $248,000 will be made in Trent's new positioning and recruitment marketing program

  • An additional $150,000 has been set aside to support increased marketing and promotion activities associated with stimulating growth in Trent at UOIT

Other highlights of the budget include allowance for salary increases in line with collective agreements, or comparator data where applicable, employer contributions to pension plans assumed to be increasing in line with actuarial model recommendations and other fringe benefit increases at 3.5 per cent.

Enrolment estimates allow for an accurate forecast of revenues, shaping the University's budget. Trent is experiencing and responding to enrolment challenges and the increasingly competitive nature of the postsecondary landscape in Ontario; these lower than expected enrolment estimates are reflected in the budget. Meanwhile, it is assumed in the budget that there will be a provincial grant for tuition backfill funding to partially compensate for frozen domestic tuition, no base provincial government grant increase and no tuition increase for undergraduate students. As well, the budget assumes increased expenses for electrical (six per cent), water (five per cent) and gas (nine per cent).

Garth Brownscombe, director, Financial Services explained that these assumptions also point to concerns of a structural nature in the budget. Despite no inflationary increases in grants per student for several years, the university inflation index is 4.5 per cent per year. Meanwhile, tuition backfill funding from the government doesn't fully offset the tuition freeze. Lastly, Trent has approximately 500 students unfunded by the government as a result of past years' discounted growth funding. These unfunded students are yet to be addressed by the province although it has been recommended in the Rae Review as a "first step" in correcting the underfunding situation in Ontario.

Therefore, Mr. Brownscombe added, a number of less than desirable and unsustainable actions were taken to balance the budget. These decisions would be reviewed in light of any additional funding announcements in the provincial budget.

  • a one-time surplus anticipated in the 2004-05 budget has been appropriated as a contribution to the bottom line in 2005-06, and will support a number of one-time investments including a graduate student scholarship reserve

  • half of the funds specifically targeted as extraordinary investments in physical resources and information technology in 2004-05 have been applied to balancing the 2005-06 budget which amounts to a further appropriation of one-time funds to close the gap between expenses and revenue available

  • a number of one-time savings are possible as a result of a freeze on hirings in the 2005-06 year, a single opportunity of approximately $250,000 (e.g., faculty relocation costs)

  • expenditures in the equipment budget have been frozen ($250,000)

In adopting the budget, the Board supported the suspension of any new contributions to the cumulative deficit for 2005-06, given this year's constraints. Each year since 2000, the budget has included funds to pay down the deficit.

Budget projections show deficits are currently forecast for 2006-07 and 2007-08 reflecting similar structural concerns of largely frozen revenues and increasing costs.

Board Leadership Scholarship 

The Board Leadership Scholarship is supported entirely by governor donations. Once again this year, there was 100 per cent participation; the total raised in 2004-05 was $23,832.

Board Appointments: designated seats 

The Board reserves eight of its 26 seats for faculty, staff, students and alumni. Today the Board appointed Deb Nichols, a staff member in Trent’s Academic Skills Centre, and Tyler Roach, an undergraduate student majoring in Geography and International Development, to the Board for two-year terms commencing July 1, 2005. Dr. Peter Lafleur, of Trent’s Geography department, who had been uncontested as the faculty's nominee, was reappointed for a second two-year term. Richard Johnston, an alumnus, former MPP, former chair of the Council of Regents of Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology, former president of the First Nations Technical Institute on the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory and of Centennial College, was appointed to one of the two alumni seats on the Board for two years effective July 1, 2005. This appointment will be a return engagement for Mr. Johnston who was an alumni member of the Trent Board of Governors in the late 1990s.

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For further information, please contact:

Don Cumming, Senior Director, Public Affairs, (705) 748-1011, ext. 1224

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