York University’s three-year budget plan approved

Aerial view of York Keele campus summer

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The University’s three-year budget plan, approved by the Board of Governors, takes a thoughtful and balanced approach to ensure York remains financially sustainable while delivering on its long-term vision.

As part of its normal annual budget planning process, the University consulted with community members from all Faculties and divisions to seek input that would shape the plan taken to the Board of Governors for approval. At its meeting on April 30, the board approved the University’s three-year rolling budget, 2024-27.

“Along with prudent forecasting and in-depth sector analysis, this budget has been shaped by our community,” affirms Carol McAulay, vice-president finance and administration. “It reflects the priorities identified throughout the budget consultation cycle and considers the current challenges affecting York and most universities across Ontario.”

York is at a significant point along its path to realizing its vision. At the same time, the institution is adjusting in response to unprecedented external factors. The University has been actively managing a range of forces that, combined, are having a serious impact on the sector. This includes ongoing effects of the pandemic, higher inflation, the 10 per cent cut to domestic tuition and subsequent freeze, visa processing delays for international students and geopolitical events. Through all of these challenges, the University has been able to keep investing in priorities such as faculty complement renewal, new program development, research intensification and the student learning experience, while also setting aside a portion of operating surpluses as a contingency fund pending the outcome of Bill 124 and the recovery of international enrolment. As a result of these efforts, York began the 2023-24 year with a positive operating fund carryforward of approximately $250 million.

Ongoing enrolment challenges in the 2023-24 fiscal year required a range of measures to align costs with lower revenues. These measures included reduced spending on University travel, hospitality, professional development and other operating expenses; streamlining course offerings; reducing duplication; postponing some elements of the University’s digital transformation program; deferring some renovations and equipment renewals; and limiting staff and faculty hiring. Nonetheless, the University ended the fiscal year with an operating budget deficit of $142 million, more than twice the deficit of $68 million approved for 2023-24 by the board last June.

A further three-year tuition freeze and a federal cap on international study visas have compounded the challenges for the recently approved three-year budget starting in 2024-25. The University has plans to achieve a balanced position in year three of the multi-year budget, including targets to close the gap of $30 million this year, $80 million in 2025-26 and $90 million in 2026-27. In order to achieve this, the University is implementing a roadmap containing 17 projects to generate new revenue and identify cost containment opportunities.

“The approved budget enables the University to continue to advance the strategic priorities outlined in the University Academic Plan while also ensuring its long-term financial sustainability in a challenging fiscal environment,” adds Lisa Philipps, provost and vice-president academic. “The outcomes from these collegially-informed projects will allow the University to align revenues and expenditures while supporting investment in growth.”

“York has made incredible progress towards the realization of our vision to offer a diverse student population access to a high-quality education at a research-intensive university committed to enhancing the well-being of the communities we serve, which is continuing to raise our international reputation in post-secondary education,” said Rhonda Lenton, president and vice-chancellor.

“While we must continue to advocate for our sector,” adds Lenton, “York has a strong foundation that can be leveraged in tackling these short-term challenges and seizing opportunities to forge the future of the University together.”

Budget details and more information is available on the University’s Shared Accountability and Resource Planning web page.