Still paying off accumulated deficit, however
If everything goes according to plan, Laurentian University will balance its budget for the fourth year in a row in 2014-2015.
The $141-million budget was approved by the university's board of governors June 20 after a series of 16 consultation sessions with 160 people from the Laurentian community. This budget marks an increase of $4.3 million over 2013-2014.
The university will still have an accumulated deficit of $7.6 million left over from the not-so-distant days when it was in the red. That's down from a high of $11.3 million in 2011-2012.
The university has built in a surplus of about $600,000 in the 2014-2015 budget to help pay down this accumulated deficit, said Laurentian's vice-president of administration, Carol McAulay.
She also presented a plan showing balanced budget projections for the university through until 2019-2020.
The university will balance its books despite government grant reductions, including an efficiency target that took $1 million out of Laurentian's budget, McAulay said.
It has dealt with this shortfall in part by delaying staff hires. Overall faculty will remain stable in the next two years, and decline by 15 positions in 2016-2017 and 2017-2018.
The biggest change in the financial forecasting since the approval of the 2012-2017 Strategic Plan is the impact of delayed government decision-making with regards to Laurentian's proposed Barrie satellite campus.
However, it looks like the province will start moving on the project this fall, when Laurentian will be able to submit its business plan to the government, McAulay said.
Laurentian currently shares space with Georgian College in Barrie to offer programs, and enrolment there has stagnated, she said.
“Students aren't attracted to the program there,” McAulay said. “It's the same program, but it doesn't have the same feel as being at a university.”
The budget also includes the creation of a new Faculty of Graduate Studies, as part of an ambitious graduate expansion implementation plan, nearly doubling domestic graduate enrolment between 2011 and 2018.
It also includes $41.9 million to support strategic plan outcomes, $44.6 million to modernize the Sudbury campus and a $25 million commitment, up from $14 million, to open a new satellite campus in Barrie.
“As we enter the third year of our strategic plan, investments continue to be made to shape the future of Laurentian University,” said Laurentian president Dominic Giroux, in a press release.
“Despite increasing funding pressures, Laurentian has sustained investments to support the university's aspirations. We thank those who took part in the consultation process for their contributions in helping us achieve this goal.”
During the June 20 meeting, Laurentian's board of governors also agreed to borrow $10 million for the construction of a new student centre, as well as approved the facility's future location, next to the Parker Building.
Students will pay the money back through a tuition levy over the next 30 years. The new fee was approved in a student referendum in March.
Because students who are closer to graduating won't benefit from the new student centre, the levy would be implemented in a tiered system.
During the next school year, students would pay $40, with that fee increasing to $80 the next year, and $113 the year after that.