Cape Breton University Board of Governors approved an operating budget of just over $49 million for the 2017-2018 academic year at their April 28, meeting, an increase of approximately 1.8 per cent over the previous year. Expenses are projected to exceed revenue by $659,000. The 2017-2018 operating budget is CBU’s second consecutive deficit budget although the deficit as stated is less than the budgeted deficit for 2016/17 and down from the amount authorized by the Board in its endorsement of the CBU Financial Plan in September of 2016. The budget proposal flows from a five-year Revitalization Plan presented by Interim President, Dale Keefe that was also reviewed and approved at the meeting.
The budget includes a tuition increase of 5.9 per cent, a government funding increase of one per cent, more money for student financial aid and provisions for strategic investments in growth areas.
“These are very tough financial times in the higher education sector in Nova Scotia,” says Keefe. “We are very confident that the budget presented today by Vice-President, Gordon MacInnis will allow CBU to remain committed to quality programming, while enabling us to grow in a fiscally responsible way as outlined in the Revitalization Plan.”
The Revitalization Plan, is designed around key strategies including:
Growth in international and aboriginal student enrolment offset in part by increased recruitment and student services costs,
Modest reduction in part time teaching costs comprised of reduced investment in programs with declining enrolment and increased part time investment in growth areas,
Fundraising revenues benefiting the operating fund, and
Business development activities.
While admittedly containing elements of financial risk – particularly concerning the enrolment and fundraising areas, the Revitalization Plan represents the University’s most realistic approach to arrest further mid-term decline in the institution’s fiscal health in light of current constraints to realize further operational cost savings. The CBU Revitalization Plan provides a framework and the necessary rigor to restore the institution’s financial health by 2022/23.
“There are always tough decisions that need to be made as we move forward and drive progress,” says Keefe. “We do feel strongly that the choices made are in the best interest of our students and will serve the University well as we grow and flourish.”
A Presidential Selection Committee was also approved at the meeting today. The Committee will have no more than nine months to file a report with recommendations on the next president of Cape Breton University.