Dalhousie Budget Planning

Up-to-date information about university operating budget planning

Latest news

March 30, 2023

The Dalhousie Board of Governors has approved the 2023-24 operating budget.

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).