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Planning & Budget Framework

March 29, 2023

At their March 28, 2023 meeting, the Board of Governors approved UVic’s Planning and Budget Framework, which outlines key areas of focus and investment over the next three years as well as our operating budget for the coming year.

UVic’s 2023/24 operating budget addresses challenges, prioritizes rebuilding enrolment

At their March 28, 2023 meeting, the Board of Governors approved UVic’s Planning and Budget Framework, which outlines key areas of focus and investment over the next three years as well as our operating budget for the coming year.

As many members of our community will know, the budgeting process was challenging this year, with leaders across the university asked to make difficult decisions in order to ensure a balanced budget. These decisions affected many of our units on campus, and we thank everyone for their contributions and ongoing support of one another as we continue to manage the impacts together.

Supporting students

UVic’s 2023/24 operating budget of $488 million prioritizes enrolment rebuilding and students. As such, the budget includes limited new investments focused on supporting student recruitment and student success with scholarships, bursaries and work study placements to increase access and affordability for students. Student health and wellness, accessibility, pathway programs and housing are also priority areas.

As a publicly funded institution, UVic must be a fiscally responsible steward of public funds and tuition dollars—focusing investments on our core academic mission and commitment to students and community, as outlined in our institutional plans. Our investments this year will help us meet our student recruitment and retention goals so that we can continue to invest in strategic priorities that make UVic, Victoria and BC a great place to live, work and study.

A people-focused university

Any enrolment shortfall and associated reduced tuition revenue, as we have experienced, has a longer-term impact than just the initial year in which it happens. A decline in new student intake one year will have an impact on the budget over the following four to five years (the time most students take to complete their degree). Unfortunately, all our anticipated enrolment scenarios necessitated a budget reduction for 2023/24.

The budget is based on modest growth in undergraduate enrolment over our 2022/23 levels (a 2% increase in domestic and 4% increase in international), along with a 4% operating budget reduction for 2023/24 to ensure a balanced budget. All portfolios and units were asked to contribute to the reduction, aside from the newly developed Vice-President Indigenous portfolio. As well, some specific student supports like student financial aid and health and wellness were not required to develop reduction plans. We communicated this reduction to faculty and staff earlier this year, and many unit leaders have already started implementing their reduction plans.

Since almost 80% of UVic’s general operating budget goes towards salaries and benefits, staffing reductions and positions were unfortunately unavoidable. Because of the temporary hiring pause and review in fall 2022 most of UVic’s budget reduction was realized through vacant positions and retirements, however there were some layoffs, both voluntary and involuntary. Leaders have been working with Human Resources and union leaders to ensure those staff are being supported through the transition and to future work, with their employment agreement entitlements.

Sponsored research funding, including funding from the granting councils, is separate from our operating budget and thus not impacted.

As we rebuild enrolments and position ourselves for the future with our new strategic plan, we will work to ensure faculty, librarians, staff and students are well supported. Quality teaching, learning and research are fundamental to our core mission and will always be prioritized. We have shown resilience, our fundamentals are strong, and we are well placed to see improved outcomes in the years ahead.

Tuition and fees

Necessitated by the steep rise in inflation and cost of goods across the country, we reviewed and adjusted inflation rate changes and fees for 2023 to ensure financial sustainability in the coming years.

Our approach to tuition increases is consistent with last year. Domestic and graduate student rates align with the province’s tuition policy limit (2%) and undergraduate international student rates are based on a projected three-year average inflation rate (6.75%). Unlike domestic students, international students are not subsidized by the provincial government and pay for the full cost of their education.

In our ancillary operations, we are increasing residence and meal plan rates 10%, reflecting the high inflationary environment including the rising cost of food. We benchmark our housing and meal plan rates annually to comparator institutions and remain below or at the average relative to peers, and we continue to be committed to high quality, locally sourced food and sustainable operations.

We are investing in our bursaries and programs like work study to support students who have financial need, including in the context of inflation and affordability more generally.

Campus construction projects

Despite our constrained budget environment, campus construction projects, like the addition to the Engineering and Computer Science Building and the National Centre for Indigenous Laws, will continue. UVic receives funds from various sources such as governments, donors and foundations for these projects, and we can’t divert those funds towards salaries, supports, services or other operational costs or projects. This also applies to any routine capital funding from the province to address deferred maintenance in our buildings. Capital funds are held and reported on separately from our operating accounts.

UVic is committed to expanding on-campus housing for students with the delivery of almost 400 new beds this fall. Planning has started to further expand on-campus housing as outlined in our capital plan. As well, planning work has begun on a university mixed-use project on the Ian Stewart site, which will include housing and other uses with the goal of diversifying our revenue to support institutional strategic priorities.

Looking forward

Although we are still recovering from the effects of the pandemic, the signs for the future are positive. Our applications and admissions for both domestic and international undergraduates, while still early in the cycle, are trending positively. Our investments in scholarships and recruitment, along with operational improvements like earlier admission offers, are positioning us well to meet our enrolment targets for the coming year. The campus is actively engaged in a range of activities to take our admission offers through to new student registrations for the 2023/24 academic year.

Integrated Planning

The Integrated Planning Committee plays a key role in budget governance. As the name suggests, members work to integrate priorities across the university, ensuring newly funded initiatives align with university plans and with other priorities across campus.

The committee is chaired by the Vice-President Academic and Provost and includes the four Vice-Presidents, the University Secretary, and Associate Vice-Presidents from all portfolios.

Roles and responsibilities

The committee reviews and coordinates the annual priorities of all university portfolios in the context of the university's strategic plan and within a three-year planning horizon.

  • Coordinates planning across all VP portfolios
  • Operationalizes the university’s Strategic Plan
  • Plans for a three-year integrated planning horizon
  • Discusses major strategic objectives and priorities
  • Develops the annual Planning and Budget Framework
  • Determines operational and resource requirements