News

The meeting will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. on May 27 in Tabaret Hall’s Senate Chamber. Photo: Jaclyn McRae-Sadik.

University running a deficit while tuition up for international students, two residences to close by 2022

The University of Ottawa’s Board of Governors (BOG) will tackle a number of key documents at their May meeting, including the U of O’s 2019-20 budget and its semi-annual risk management report. The meeting will be held in Tabaret Hall’s Senate Chamber from 5 to 7 p.m. on May 27.

Here’s what you need to know from the documents the BOG will be discussing.

Tuition up for international students

The budget makes plenty of mentions of the Ford government’s changes to the post-secondary sector to come into effect in September, namely the 10 per cent tuition decrease for domestic students for the 2019-20 year, carrying into the following year. The university says it has decided to extend this tuition decrease to francophone international students.

Altogether, the U of O expects the tuition slash to cost them around $33 million in the 2019-20 academic year and $45 million in the 2020-21 year.

“With the announcement of its 2019-2020 Budget, the provincial government sent a clear signal that funding will continue to decrease and universities are expected to manage with less,” the report reads.

But while tuition fees dip for domestic students they’ll rise for international students by 12 per cent to offset the loss of revenue. This means they’ll pay anywhere from $3,305 to $5,925 more a year.

The university says it will limit future tuition increases for international students admitted during or before the summer 2018 semester to 5.5 per cent.

University running a deficit

In the budget the university’s revenue will hit $807.5 million in the 2019-20 academic year while its expenses will total $824.9 million, representing a $17.4 million deficit. The university says it will reduce the deficit over a three to five year period.

“The university hopes to meet the budgetary challenge posed by the Ontario government without imposing across-the-board cuts to the faculties and services,” the budget reads in relation to the deficit.

About $61 million of the U of O’s expenses will be financed by tuition fees and grants, the highest chunk in the last 10 years since a peak of $69 million in the 2013-14 year.

Rising maintenance costs, housing and food services

The 2019-20 budget reveals deferred maintenance costs are spiking at the university while the average age of campus buildings nears 69 years old. The U of O faced a total of over $387 million in costs as of December 2018, $292 million of that tied to teaching and research buildings, $81 million to residences, and $14 million to other facilities, such as food services or parking.

As a result, the U of O says it plans to permanently close both Stanton and Marchand residences by 2022. But at the same time, the budget highlights the need to increase bed space for students from the current 4,000 to 6,500. The report highlights the U of O’s partnership with the private sector (i.e. the September opening of the Annex off-campus) has helped increase housing capacity by almost 50 per cent from 2012-13.

When it comes to food services, the university plans to renovate Roger Guidon Hall at the Ottawa Hospital to make way for 150 seats. Construction starts in June and is expected to be completed by January 2020, the report says.

Shifting student demographic and underfunding

The budget also points to a shifting campus demographic at the U of O. The student population is expected to hit 43,000 this year,  up from about 39,500 in 2010. Of this number, 18 per cent are international students, tripling from 2010. The number of graduate students sits at 16 per cent, relatively stable over the past 10 years. 

The budget also underlines a few areas of the university that are underfunded. These include research ($8 to $12 million), building and campus maintenance ($15 to $20 million), francophonie and bilingualism initiatives ($30 million), and support for students with disabilities, which has an unknown amount of underfunding.

Other information

  • The U of O has partnered with the city on its bid to win the 2020 North American Indigenous Games. The 2017 edition was held in Toronto.
  • The report makes mention of the infamous Panda Game street parties held just outside campus in Sandy Hill, “an issue that will require attention.” The report says attendance the university-organized on-campus event was lower than anticipated.

The BOG’s next meeting will be held on June 20.