The Board of Governors of the University of New Brunswick has approved a balanced operating budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year. It is the fourth budget in a multi-year series designed to ensure the university’s long-term financial stability in the face of increasing costs, stagnant government support, and a sluggish economic environment.
“It is a challenging time for universities across the country, including ours,” said Eddy Campbell, president and vice-chancellor of UNB. “Over the past few years, everyone at the university has worked tirelessly to find savings, reduce costs and increase efficiency in order to ensure our university continues to offer the quality education and world-class research our province needs.”
Overall, the $182-million budget represents an annual increase of $3-million, or 1.7 per cent.
Over the past eight years, UNB has cut more than $25-million from its operating budget, Campbell noted, including $3.8-million in savings within the 2013-14 budget. This year’s savings were achieved through attrition-based reductions in faculty, non-salary budget freezes, and lower energy costs due to efficiencies.
“With so many cuts over the last eight years, finding further efficiencies is very difficult,” added Campbell. “For several years UNB has been doing more with less, but it now appears that we will be required to start doing less with less.”
In addition to budget reductions, the university utilized one-time sources of funding in order to achieve a balanced budget in 2013-14. The budget, therefore, contains embedded structural challenges that will need to be addressed in the future.
“We do have concerns over the long-term sustainability of the provincial government’s investment in UNB,” added Campbell. “We are currently negotiating for additional resources, although we recognize the fiscal challenges that confront New Brunswick. We believe, however, that the work we are doing will transform our society and our economy.”
With government funding frozen for a second consecutive year, provincial support for UNB accounts for 60.3 per cent of its 2013-14 budget, with an additional 32.4 per cent generated from tuition and 7.3 per cent from other sources.
Over 70 per cent of UNB’s 2013-14 operating budget will support faculty/department costs and academic/student services. Approximately 15 per cent of the budget supports administrative and development services and 12 per cent is earmarked for maintenance and utilities with the remaining funds designated to other activities.
While the current fiscal environment required the university to review all of its spending as part of the 2013-14 budget exercise, Campbell noted that care was taken to protect financial support for students and core student services. He added that more work is needed in the future to ensure that UNB’s program offerings and research capability remain world-class.
“In the months and years ahead, we will continue to work with the university community to achieve a more sustainable alignment of our resources and strategic priorities,” Campbell said. “This means reviewing programs and services to ensure they line up with our mandate.”
Provisions have been made through the 2013-14 budget for continuing improvements to classrooms, laboratories and student spaces, although these capital upgrades are modest compared to previous years.
As well, through multi-year planning, funding for student financial support (scholarships and bursaries) has been increased despite uncertain financial markets.
Tuition for students in undergraduate programs will increase by $150, the cap suggested by the provincial government. Inflation-based adjustments will also be made to some ancillary fees on the Fredericton and Saint John campuses.
Media contact: Natasha Ashfield, (506) 458-7969.