Dalhousie’s Budget Advisory Committee has released its Final Operating Budget Plan for 2016-17. The plan can be found at the university's budget website.
The budget plan, a follow-up to the draft report released February 4, contains recommendations for balancing the university operating budget. These recommendations will be presented to the president and, subsequently, the Board of Governors for approval.
Given the university’s budget constraints — rising fixed costs and limited government funding — many of the BAC recommendations are the same as in its initial draft report, including a 3 per cent tuition increase across all programs and a 2.5 per cent budget reduction applied across all faculties and departments.
Changes to tuition adjustments
The most significant change is in the additional tuition adjustments proposed for undergraduate courses in Engineering, Pharmacy and the Faculty of Agriculture. Following consultations with students and others, the BAC revisited the calculations and comparisons that informed its initial drafts and has reduced the recommended adjustments in all three cases. The revised adjustments (which would be in addition to any general increases, such as the 3% for 2016-17) are:
- Engineering: 3.3% per year for three years (down from 5%)
- Pharmacy: 4% per year for three years (down from 5%)
- Agriculture: 5.8% per year for three years (down from 6.3%)
In addition, the BAC is proposing a bursary for current Agriculture students to reduce the impact of the tuition adjustment to 3.4%, bringing the impact of the adjustment on current students in line with those in Pharmacy and Engineering. This will be done through an automatic bursary of $15 per half credit over the next three years for Agriculture students currently enrolled this year (2015-16) and continuing into 2016-17.
To account for the reduction in revenues from these changes, the budget plan reduces the additional funding for facilities renewal and strategic initiatives.
Further detail on these changes is available in the report [PDF].
Responding to feedback
The changes come following consultations with and feedback from the Dal community. The BAC hosted four consultation sessions — one on each campus — in late February and early March, with more than 200 students coming out to discuss the budget, tuition and fees. The BAC also solicited feedback on its draft report via email and with a student survey asking for input on budget priorities.
“We had thoughtful, detailed and engaged feedback, both at the in-person consultations and in submissions to the committee,” says Carolyn Watters, provost and vice-president academic and chair of the BAC. “We considered all comments — particularly feedback on the proposed tuition adjustments and the comparators and calculations we used — as we worked to finalize the BAC’s recommendations.”
Dalhousie’s Board of Governors is set to vote on the tuition and fee changes at its April meeting, ensuring they are implemented in time for the fall term. The Board will subsequently vote on the overall university operating budget at its June meeting.
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