Aug. 17, 2023Print | PDF
Wilfrid Laurier University, like many universities in Ontario, is facing financial challenges. To help Laurier address this, a series of financial control measures, some new and some ongoing, will be put in place for the next fiscal year to reduce expenditures across the university to align with expected revenues.
This year, the operating budget, approved by the Board of Governors on the recommendation of Senate, is a deficit budget, set at $1.9 million. This budget includes the expectation of continued in-year savings of $5.8 million to ensure that the deficit is maintained at $1.9 million or less.
This deficit was predicated on Laurier meeting its enrolment targets for 2023/24. Despite enrolment growth in key areas, Laurier did not meet those targets, and therefore it is also grappling with a revenue shortfall. Laurier’s current financial challenge for 2023/24, including the savings identified in the 2023/24 budget approval, tuition shortfall tied to incoming student enrolments levels, and anticipated additional budget pressures, indicates the university will end the year in an operating budget deficit of $11 million if no financial sustainability measures are taken.
As a result, the university is analyzing its financial position considering the 2022/23 year-end financial statements and the projected student registrations for the 2023/24 academic year. This analysis will inform the strategies to achieve the needed savings.
The following financial control measures are being taken and discussions are underway for additional measures:
To date, to address the impact of the provincial government’s 10% tuition cut for Ontario students in 2019, and subsequent tuition freeze, Laurier has risen to the financial challenges presented by implementing strategies to yield $22 million in cumulative base budget savings to the end of fiscal 2022/23. Despite these considerable efforts, increasing inflationary cost pressures, along with ongoing constraints on domestic tuition rate growth, have led to a state of structural deficit for the university and pose a risk to multi-year financial sustainability.
Laurier continues to work alongside postsecondary sector peers to advocate for much-needed relief from the current tuition framework and revenue constraints.
“Continuing with financial control measures will give us all an opportunity to work together and find effective and innovative solutions to help return the university to a balanced budget position,” said Lloyd Noronha, vice-president: finance and administration.
“We recognize that measures such as hiring delays, and limits on operating and discretionary expenses, are challenging. We are looking at every possible measure to address our financial position.”
Laurier leadership will continue to engage the university community throughout the fiscal year to discuss and identify additional measures to achieve financial sustainability. The university has seen some recent significant successes that will contribute to long-term financial security, such as limited exception tuition increases approved by the province for select programs where rates were below the sector average; corridor funding in 2022 to expand Laurier’s Bachelor of Education program to the Brantford campus; and corridor funding for Laurier’s Milton campus.