Budget update

- University of Victoria

At this time last year when the university was starting to prepare its 2020/21 budget, none of us could have predicted that a global pandemic would take hold of our daily lives and cause massive changes throughout our workplaces and households.

The University of Victoria, like other post-secondary institutions, continues to carefully consider the pandemic’s impact on all facets of the university including the financial implications.  We are making necessary and significant investments to fund remote learning, student supports, and health and safety measures while carefully monitoring impacts on our revenues including tuition and ancillary operations.

Our goal has been to keep the overall ongoing budget as intact as possible while providing the flexibility to adjust as needed. As such, we revised the 2020/21 budget in June to reflect the anticipated impacts to enrolments and reductions to ancillary income, and to provide for necessary investments.

We appreciate the work undertaken by the academic and operational units to help with various mitigation strategies including deferred spending, a temporary delay in hiring for positions not directly responding to the pandemic, and a reallocation of carry forward funds and equipment reserves.

We have also significantly reduced on-campus operations in areas such as residence services, food services, athletics and recreation and Continuing Studies.

This has resulted in the temporary reduction of 160 staff members from units that are most directly affected by the reduced activity on campus.  While we have been able to redeploy many of these staff members, others remain temporarily laid off and supported with a modest top-up to the federal income support programs and access to full benefits.

By maintaining either employment continuity or a continued employment relationship, it is our hope that the staff displaced from their positions by COVID-19 will be able to quickly return to their positions when we can safely and feasibly resume those operations.

At the same time, we recognize that the quality of our education and our students’ experience are essential to our institutional goals and our university’s reputation as a desirable learning environment for students. 

To support the quality of education and the faculty, instructors and staff who provide it, we have made significant investments over the past several months in a new learning management system and related supports; additional sessional instructors and teaching assistants to help students learning in an online environment; new technologies such as video conferencing and collaboration software; student engagement programs; financial supports for students as well as investments in enhanced cleaning and other safety measures. All of this is to help provide a healthy and safe environment and high-quality teaching, learning and working experience.

We are still investing in priority areas such as funding to support new programs to meet student demand; scholarships and graduate fellowships; library collection; student mental health; supports for research including grant facilitation and health sciences; IT security; and Indigenous supports including the LE,NONET program, and support for Indigenous co-op placements.

As we look forward to the coming months, we are cautiously optimistic about enrolment for the year. Some uncertainty remains including students’ decisions about the spring term.

These are new learning, teaching and working conditions for all of us and some  in our community will adapt to the new environment more easily than others. We need to be attentive to everyone’s experiences. While significant additional resources have been put in place, we will likely need to make further investments as our understanding of our community’s needs evolve over the fall.

While we recognize that circumstances could change in the months ahead, at this point we believe that the carefully considered measures we have put in place will address the budget gap created by incremental investments and the loss of revenue.

Above all, our planning will continue to place the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff as our highest priority.

We realize that uncertainty can be stressful. We will continue to provide regular updates to the campus community as we chart our way forward together.

We thank each of you for your adaptability, resiliency and dedication as we navigate these challenging times.

Valerie S. Kuehne, Vice-President Academic and Provost
Gayle Gorrill, Vice-President Finance and Operations