Dalhousie Budget Planning

Up-to-date information about university operating budget planning

Latest news

January 23, 2023

The Dalhousie Budget Advisory Committee (BAC) has released its draft Operating Budget Plan for 2023-24, including tuition and fee recommendations.

This plan also incorporates the new model for international tuition, which applies to new undergraduate students starting Fall 2023 and beyond and was approved by the Board in the fall.
The Dalhousie community is invited to provide feedback on this draft Operating Budget Plan, as well as tuition and auxiliary fee increases. Students, faculty and staff should check their dal.ca email or review the memo below.
The Board of Governors is scheduled to review and approve the final Operating Budget Plan at its March meeting.

Read the full announcement memo from the Provost and Vice-President Finance & Administration on the draft budget plan (January 23)



To:                The Dalhousie University community

From:            Kim Brooks, Provost and Vice-President Academic (Acting) and BAC Chair  

                       Gitta Kulczycki, Vice-President Finance and Administration   

Date:             Monday, January 23, 2023

Re:                 Draft operating budget plan and tuition and fee recommendations for 2023-24   

The Dalhousie Budget Advisory Committee (BAC), which advises the president on the university operating budget, has released its draft operating budget plan for 2023-24 along with tuition and fee recommendations for the upcoming year.     

The budget plan and recommendations are available for download and review at dal.ca/budget.   

All members of the Dal community are invited to provide feedback on the budget plan through our survey. We kindly request that all survey responses be submitted by Monday, February 6.

About the operating budget plan   

The 2023-24 draft operating budget plan is designed to support our Dal community’s shared goals. It aims to align funding allocations with the university’s academic mission and strategic priorities in a fiscally sustainable manner. The operating budget pays for compensation for faculty and staff, scholarship support, maintenance to campus buildings, libraries funding, and all the other day-to-day costs of running the university.

Dal’s primary budget challenge remains that annual operating costs rise at a significantly faster rate than government funding. This creates a gap which the budget plan addresses through a mix of spending reductions (asking Faculties/units to find cost savings after expenditure increases are considered) and revenue increases (tuition fees).

Budget plan highlights

The draft plan, which is balanced at $557.8 million, includes the following:   

  • An increase to Faculty/unit budgets of $24.2 million (an average of 6.2%). Faculties and units will be asked to address a 1.5% gap between this budget allocation and overall cost increases.
  • An increase to domestic tuition of 3%. Current international students would see their tuition increase, on average, by 7.5% — a comparable increase to recent years. As previously communicated and as approved by the Board in the fall, a new guaranteed tuition model will apply to new international undergraduate students in select Faculties beginning Fall 2023.
  • An increase to student assistance of $1.1 million, including an allocation to support international students under the new tuition model.
  • An inflationary adjustment of 2% applied to Faculty/unit non-salary budgets and library acquisition costs.
  • Continued investment in Third Century Promise priorities, facilities renewal and cybersecurity.


The Dalhousie community is invited to provide feedback on this draft Operating Budget Plan, as well as tuition and auxiliary fee increases.

Have your say:  

We kindly request that all survey responses be submitted by Monday, February 6.

In addition, the BAC will be attending a Senate think tank session to discuss the budget plan, as well as seeking input from the Dalhousie Student Union and other campus groups.

General feedback can also be emailed to BAC@dal.ca. Feedback received before February 22 will be considered before this report is released in final form. Final tuition, student fee, and budget recommendations are scheduled to be presented to the Board of Governors for approval in March.

We appreciate your participation in the budget planning process. Thank you.


Kim Brooks
Provost and Vice-President Academic (Acting)
Chair, Budget Advisory Committee

Gitta Kulczycki
Vice-President Finance and Administration 

Dalhousie University is located in Mi'kma'ki, the ancestral and unceded territory of the Mi`kmaq. We are all treaty people.

We recognize that African Nova Scotians are a distinct people whose histories, legacies and contributions have enriched that part of Mi’kma’ki known as Nova Scotia for over 400 years.

Dal's operating budget at a glance

The operating budget funds the day-to-day operations of the university, accounting for the majority (70%) of the university’s financial activity. The draft operating budget plan for this upcoming fiscal year (2023-24) balances revenues and expenditures at $557.8 million.

Where the money comes from

  • Nearly 90% of the budget's operating revenue comes from two sources:
    • Tuition fees, set by the university's Board of Governors: 47.3%
    • Provincial operating grant, set by the provincial government: 41.4%
  • The remaining 11.3% comes from other various smaller sources, most notably endowment revenue.


Source: Draft 2023-24 Operating Budget

Where the money goes

  • Most of the operating budget (74.6%) is allocated to Faculties and units to deliver on priorities in support of the university's mission and to carry out their day-to-day work.
    • The vast majority of Faculty and unit spending (93%) is on compensation for faculty and staff (salaries, benefits and pension payments). Faculty and staff compensation makes up nearly 70% of overall university operating expenses.
  • Dalhousie allocates resources similar to its U15 comparators (Canada’s group of leading research‐intensive universities). Dalhousie spends 63.1% of its operating budget in academic areas (Faculties, including Graduate Studies and Continuing Education), compared to the U15 average of 59.4%.


Source: Draft 2023-24 Operating Budget

More about the operating budget

Dal's budget planning process

Dalhousie's operating budget planning process is coordinated through the Budget Advisory Committee (BAC) — a group chaired by the Provost with membership from senior leadership, faculty, staff and students.

Through a transparent and consultative process, the BAC is tasked with considering Dalhousie’s varied and diverse priorities and interests and making high-level recommendations for allocations of funding across the university. From there, it is up to leadership in each Faculty or service and support unit to determine how best to allocate resources to deliver on their plans and ensure Dal’s strategic goals are achieved.

The BAC engages with faculty, staff, students and university leadership throughout its planning process. See the full timetable. It produces a draft operating budget plan in the winter term, followed by a final plan in March

The Board of Governors will be voting to approve the budget and tuition and fees in March.

Dal's operating budget planning process is based on four principles:

  • The operating budget is aligned with Dalhousie’s mission and strategic priorities;
  • Recommendations are transparent;
  • The operating budget must be financially sustainable; and
  • The operating budget must be balanced.

Tuition fees

Dalhousie’s success depends on our ability to provide excellent programs and to be competitive nationally and internationally. We strive to keep tuition rates competitive with other Canadian universities while reflecting the high quality of the programs we offer.

Annual tuition increases are necessary to maintain the high quality of our academic programming. Addressing rising costs and investing in university priorities requires resources. With costs increasing at a faster rate than government funding, that leaves tuition — which funds nearly half of the operating budget — as the only significant means available to balance the operating budget.

How do Dalhousie’s tuition fees compare to other universities?

It varies by program — and where a student is from. Nova Scotia students receive an additional bursary from the Province that lowers their tuition, and Dal's international tuition fees compare very different nationally than domestic tuition. Appendix C of the BAC's draft operating budget plan [PDF] has detailed comparisons of tuition costs between Dal and its peer universities.

International tuition fee increases

Dalhousie’s international undergraduate tuition fees are currently among the lowest of Canada’s U15 group of leading research universities. For Dalhousie to maintain and improve the quality of programs and student support, and to increase the university’s competitiveness nationally and globally, sustainable resources are required.

Dalhousie's Board of Governors recently approved a new approach to international undergraduate tuition that will apply to new students beginning their studies in Fall 2023 or later. Learn more.

Student financial assistance

Across all university funds (operating, research, endowment, etc.) Dalhousie currently spends more than $90 million each year on student assistance, including scholarships, bursaries, student employment, research and external funds. 

From the operating budget specifically, Dalhousie spends 9% of total operating expenditures on scholarships and bursaries — compared to an average of 5.7% at other U15 universities.

How Dal's spending compares

One way of comparing Dal's allocation of resources to other universities is to look at allocations between three areas that each support the university's academic mission:

  • Direct academic areas (e.g., Faculties, including Graduate Studies and Open Learning and Career
  • Service and support areas (e.g., Library Services, Centre for Teaching & Learning, ITS, IT Infrastructure, Student Assistance)
  • Administration (e.g., Registrar’s Office, Human Resources, Student Accounts, President’s Office)

Compared with other U15 universities, Dalhousie allocates slightly more resources to academic and support areas and less to administration. Other Nova Scotia universities are slightly lower in academic areas, and higher in service and support and administration. Each institution operates differently, which accounts for some variability by institutions.


Faculty/staff compensation

Almost three-quarters of Dalhousie’s operating budget goes to compensation for faculty and staff, and the budget must provide for annual salary, wage and benefit increases as outlined in collective agreements.

The university spends 36.4% of operating expenditures on academic salaries as compared to an average of 32.7% at U15 comparators. In contrast, Dalhousie spends less operating expenditures on non-academic salaries than its comparators.
Just 1.9% of total operating expenditures is spent on senior administrative appointments (individuals reporting to a vice-president, the provost or the president).