UVic’s 2021/22 budget prioritizes academics, student supports

On March 30, 2021, the Board of Governors approved the university’s three-year Planning and Budget Framework, which outlines strategic investments and the budget framework for 2021/22.

Despite the challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, we met our enrolment targets for 2020/21 and will end the fiscal year in good financial shape. For 2021/22, and assuming stable enrolments, the budget is balanced, with an operating budget of $448 million. As a people-focused institution and consistent with previous years, 77 per cent of our operating budget goes towards salaries and benefits.

As we emerge from the pandemic, UVic will focus on key investments in academics, research and student supports as well as continued supports for online learning and campus safety measures. In this year’s budget, we are investing $17.8 million in new and renewed priorities across all Strategic Framework areas.

The impact of COVID-19

In the past year, in direct response to the pandemic, UVic invested nearly $18 million in COVID-19 supports. Nearly all the investments were related to academics or student supports, with half going towards supporting the online delivery of courses. This included hiring sessional instructors, graduate students as additional teaching assistants, and staff in the Division of Learning and Teaching Support and Innovation to support all faculties. Helping our students in need through this challenging time was an important priority, and we provided an additional $2.6 million in bursaries to students—totaling a record amount at UVic for this kind of support. We also invested in new teaching and learning software, which will be an ongoing investment.

When most classes and services transitioned to online delivery in March 2020, there were fewer people on campus. As a result, we closed or reduced many of our on-campus services, including food and recreation services. The Division of Continuing Studies also had to pause some of their face-to-face programming. This unfortunately led to temporary layoffs, though staff were transitioned to other roles where possible. Staffing levels will increase along with the increase of in-person operations.

Strategic investments for 2021/22

A major focus of the budget is continuing to support the university’s academic mission and our students during and following the pandemic. We want to build on what we’ve learned and what’s working well. This includes new and innovative ways of teaching and learning that better integrates technologies, as well as enhanced resources and financial supports for students.

For example, the pandemic underscored the need for accessible health and wellness resources, and we are continuing to invest in student life programs, mental health initiatives, and campus health services.

Another priority for 2021/22 is to advance equity, diversity and inclusion. One way we will achieve this is through increased supports for the office of Equity and Human Rights. This office is currently developing a framework for the university to take action and create positive change.

To advance respect and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, UVic has created a new Associate Vice-President Indigenous position, starting in April and reporting directly to the president. This role will advance Indigenous initiatives across the university and lead the renewal and implementation of the Indigenous Plan. UVic is also increasing funding within the Office of Indigenous Academic and Community Engagement to strengthen partnerships and outreach programs. Major investments will also be made towards Indigenous student recruitment, retention and supports, including Indigenous graduate fellowships. Supports in this area total about $1.8 million.

Research is also going to see some strategic investments, with approximately $2.8 million in additional funding including for direct research support and start-up funds for faculty. New grant facilitators in faculties will help improve grant seeking and success. The UVic Health Initiative will be enhanced by a new term Special Advisory Health Research role, and we will also release a new strategic research and creative works plan this year.

Other initiatives being funded in 2021/22 include developing a Climate, Sustainability and Action Plan, improving our international rankings and reputation, enhancing cyber security, and strengthening our community and alumni outreach. We are also continuing to update our physical spaces through the Campus Greenway, Campus Cycling Plan, and new and renovated buildings.

Revenue sources and fee increases

Half of UVic’s $448 million operating revenue comes from provincial grants, based on number of domestic students. The Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training sets domestic enrolment targets every year and allocates funding based on our number of full-time equivalent domestic students.

Student fees, including tuition, make up the second-largest part of our operating revenue, at just over $170 million. For 2021/22, domestic tuition fees will increase 2 per cent, in line with the provincial tuition limit policy. International tuition fees will increase 3.75 per cent, as per inflation, which at UVic has been 3.5-4 per cent per year over the last five years.

Because tuition fees can present affordability challenges and barriers to access for some students, UVic invests heavily in supports for students in need. Investments include scholarships, needs-based and emergency bursaries, and the work-study program. During the pandemic, it has also included self-isolation and quarantining supports for incoming international students. We continue to revise our financial aid and award programs to meet needs and demand.

Ancillary services

Due to the pandemic and decreased on-campus activity, revenue from ancillary operations in 2020/21 is forecasted to be $32 million less than in 2019/20. Ancillary services include on-campus housing, food, parking, child care and the bookstore. Some service areas were impacted more than others, and some will recover faster. Athletics and recreation and continuing studies are two additional areas that have been significantly impacted by the pandemic.

The budget includes supports and fee increases for some ancillary operations to offset the significant financial impacts of COVID-19 and support the ongoing mission of the university. As on-campus activity increases and we prepare to welcome students back to campus in September, we anticipate returning to long-term financial sustainability in these areas.

More information

UVic strives to take a principled and transparent approach to developing and sharing our budget. For more information on the process, investment priorities, and financial details, download the Planning and Budget Framework 2022–2024.


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Keywords: budget, administrative

Publication: The Ring

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