CBU Looks to Creatively Cut Costs Amid Global Pandemic

Just as many other businesses are, Cape Breton University (CBU) is grappling with the challenges and significant financial impacts presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to these previously unforeseen circumstances, CBU is continuing to look for creative, innovative ways to reduce costs during these very uncertain times.

“In late June, the University’s Board of Governors will be asked to approve a deficit budget for 2020-21 with a commitment that the University will be recalibrating its budget on a monthly basis, a practice that has been in place since March of this year,” says David C. Dingwall, President and Vice-Chancellor. “This monthly review will ensure that the 2020-21 financial plan reflects the most recent information available and assists with ensuring the long-term stability of our institution.”

To date, CBU has cancelled all work-related travel, discontinued close to 60 term employees, reduced operational expenditures by close to $2 million, and continues to deploy several human resource strategies which include:

  • no 2020 economic increase for non-union employees;
  • a wage rollback program of up to 10 per cent for certain non-union employees and senior administration; and
  • a temporary layoff program for close to 40 non-faculty staff in the non-union, CUPE and NSGEU MOS groups.

CBU is continuing to meet with union groups to discuss additional ways that they may be able to assist the University cope with the fallout of the COVID 19 pandemic.

“CBU’s priorities for the upcoming academic year are focused on the health and safety of the campus community, an unwavering commitment to academic excellence, preparing students, faculty and staff for an online learning environment, and supporting student financial aid,” says President Dingwall. “Tuition and fees help support these commitments and allow CBU to deliver the academic infrastructure and expertise students deserve. This was true before COVID-19 and more apparent today.”

Tuition and fees for the 2020-21 academic year will increase by 3 per cent ($24 per course); however, the following fees will be waived for the fall semester at a cost of $540,000 to the University.

  • Waive campus activity fee ($36 per semester)
  • Waive all lab fees ($67 per lab)
  • Waive online learning fee ($96 per course)
  • Provide a $24 rebate per three-credit course on the differential fee for international students

Although CBU has implemented this annual increase, the commitment to keeping tuition and fees at a competitive level in Nova Scotia is maintained. And while CBU has made the move to an online fall semester, it does not change the standard to which that education is held.

In May, CBU was able to assist 393 students, with a total of $203,000 in urgent financial support, through the Perseverance: Student Relief Fund, and has invested $2.2 million in student financial aid through entrance scholarships and bursaries for new students and in-course scholarships and bursaries for current students. This is the largest investment ever made at CBU in this area.