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Provincial Budget Response

2021-2022 Provincial Budget Response

On April 6, 2021, the Government of Saskatchewan tabled its 2021-22 provincial budget which included an announcement of a multi-year funding commitment for the province’s post-secondary institutions. As a result, the University of Regina, along with Saskatchewan’s other post-secondaries, will see base operating funding remain at current levels for the next four years.

Additional non-base funds to the University of Regina of nearly $5.5 million in each of years one and two will support institutional pandemic recovery as well as special projects aimed at addressing long-term revenue generation and/or expense reduction.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why would the University and other Saskatchewan post-secondary institutions agree to no base increase in government funding for the next four years?

Together with Saskatchewan’s other post-secondary institutions, the University of Regina entered a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Province of Saskatchewan that provides stable base funding.

Given the financial challenges facing governments across the country, including the Government of Saskatchewan, the multi-year funding commitment provides the University with stability. While the University of Regina and other post-secondary institutions won’t see increases in base funding, there will not be cuts to manage over that time period either. This is welcome news, particularly in light of reductions to post-secondary funding in other provinces.

If there has been no real increase in government funding in the last seven years, how has the University afforded rising costs such as annual salary and benefit increases?

The University is not without challenges. Government funding remains static while costs continue to rise due to inflation, salary and benefit increases, tax hikes, and other increases.

Our University community has managed with modest to no operating grant increases in the past seven years and has displayed sound financial management by finding efficiencies and actively seeking out new revenue streams.

What is the additional funding for the University of Regina in each of years one and two going to be used for? What can't it be used for?

Additional non-based funds of nearly $5.5 million in each of years one and two are intended aid in institutional COVID-19 pandemic recovery, off-setting some of the financial impact of the pandemic. The University of Regina experienced a $13.5 million dollar shortfall – directly attributable to the pandemic – in the current fiscal year alone.

The funds are also earmarked, as outlined within the MOU, to assist the University in transitioning to a more financially sustainable future, funding projects or initiatives that generate new revenue streams, enable greater cost efficiencies, and provide for increased sector-wide collaboration.

What are the implications for tuition increases?

The University will continue with its own budget-planning process for 2021-22 which includes consultation with the campus community and the development of a budget proposal, including proposed tuition rates, which will go before the Board of Governors for approval in May.

The University is acutely aware of the financial hardship that some students are experiencing between increasing costs and the impact of the global pandemic on employment opportunities. That is why the University held tuition steady with no increase in 2020-2021. Keeping post-secondary education affordable and accessible is an absolute priority for the University of Regina.

What is the University doing to mitigate the impact of tuition increases?

Keeping post-secondary education affordable and accessible is an absolute priority for the University of Regina.

The University held tuition steady with no increase in 2020-2021, saving students approximately $2.6 million*. The University also temporarily suspended or reduced some student fees during parts of the COVID-19 pandemic when many Canadian universities did not. Suspending the Rec and Athletic Fee, for example, saved students approximately $1.8 million. 

Additionally, the University has made a concerted effort to maintain affordable and accessible education by:

  • Funding and managing two Student Emergency Funds which provided more than $415,000 to students in financial need;
  • Expanding the number of courses that feature Zero-Cost Materials or Open Educational Resources, thereby saving students money on course materials;
  • Making it quicker and easier for students to transfer credits from other post-secondary institutions, saving them money on tuition; and
  • Continuing to rank at the top among Canadian universities in returning/providing funding to students through scholarship and bursary supports

* Assuming a 2.8% tuition increase had been in place as per previous years.

What does the University anticipate the impact will be of international students unable to attend?

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted international enrolment, and will continue to do so in the coming months. The University brought in $2 million less than was expected in 2020-21.

The changing pandemic landscape, including factors such as COVID-19 variants of concern (VOCs), impact our ability to accurately project international enrolments. The University remains hopeful that Regina’s increased public health measures, along with the roll-out of the provincial vaccine schedule, will enable us to start transitioning to more in-person courses in the fall.

UR International has adapted quickly, continuing international recruitment efforts, as well as supporting our international students by implementing many virtual online platforms. The unit continues to monitor updates and adapt its services to the new and changing needs of international students located in Canada or abroad. Virtual International recruitment activities underway include:

  • Admission-on-the-spot events, various recruitment events, and agent engagement/training events;
  • Targeting markets including India, Vietnam, Nigeria, Ghana, Pakistan, Nepal, China, Kenya, UAE, Philippines, Malaysia and Bangladesh;
  • Offering International Enrolment Counselling sessions to prospective students, parents and agents wishing to apply to the University of Regina; and,
  • Conducting outreach efforts to identify and build strategic program partnerships, develop new agreements, and secure targeted student cohorts for customized short-term programs with institutions in China and Mexico.

Virtual International student support programs include:

  • Bi-weekly international student town halls, daily Zoom drop-in sessions, and individual-based advising sessions to address inquiries related to travel restrictions, immigration applications etc.;
  • An extended-virtual international student orientation with accommodations to serve several time zones;
  • Online availability of all academic and non-academic Global Learning Centre programs and the International Peer Advisor Program;
  • Continuation of the Confucius Institute’s virtual language courses and cultural programs; and,
  • Promotion of the Study Abroad virtual mobility program which is experiencing an uptake in interest.

Four collective agreements expire this year. What are the implications for salary negotiations?

The University of Regina is committed to collegial bargaining processes with the unions representing student, faculty and staff employees. Salary negotiations are part of the bargaining process.

What is the University doing to reduce expenditures?

During the past several years, the University has focused efforts on reducing expenditures. Some examples of this work include:

  • A special project that centralized and established standards and protocols for the purchase and deployment of printers, scanners and copiers across the University, the institution was able to realize a 10-year cost savings of $4.6 million;
  • Reduction of the University’s electrical energy intensity (kWh/sq ft) by 32.6 per cent during the last 10 years. Despite significantly increased enrolment – and the addition of new infrastructure on campus – ongoing efficiency measures have decreased the University’s energy intensity.  If the University’s electrical intensity had remained consistent with 2011 levels, the institution would be spending an additional $446,000 on energy and a further $144,000 in carbon tax in 2021 alone; and,
  • The University has outlined an ambitious goal within its 2020-25 Strategic Plan: to achieve a 25% reduction in its environmental footprint. The University is examining the reuse or rehabilitation of existing infrastructure, water efficiency, energy efficiency, use of sustainable materials, construction waste management, and optimizing operational and maintenance practices which will result in additional cost savings.

What is the University doing to generate new revenues?

The University is actively generating revenue and working to identify new revenue streams on a regular basis.

Some examples of non-tuition revenue streams include:

  • The University has an active fundraising team that works to secure funds to support student scholarships, bursaries and awards, as well as research, infrastructure, and special projects. Since 2016-17, this team has increased fundraising revenue by more than 100 per cent – $4.9 million in 2016-17 to $10.3 million in 2019-20.
  • For every dollar invested in University fundraising, the team returns $8.75 to the institution.
  • Research revenue. The University’s research revenue through funding sources (such as tri-council, CRC, etc.) has grown from $15.4M in 2016-17 to $27.9M in 2019-20.

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