Budget Update and Town Halls – March 12
Thank you to all who attended one of yesterday’s town halls on budget impacts to the institution for 2020/21 and the next several years. For those who were not able to attend, below is a summary of what was shared.
I know that staff expected more details than what I could provide; however, we are in an evolving situation, and still receiving more information from the Government that impacts our budget planning assumptions. While I can provide you with some information, I am not in a position to provide you with specific details about staff reduction numbers and timelines at this time. I acknowledge the frustration this is causing. It is important to remember that throughout the budget process, we remain committed to our students and their positive student experience and we will continue to work to minimize impact to students and staff.
On February 27, the Provincial Budget 2020 was released, which confirmed our grant allocations for 2020/21. Although our mental health, disability and infrastructure maintenance grants were restored, our Campus Alberta Grant (CAG) was reduced by an additional 2.24 per cent, bringing our total CAG reduction to 10.1 per cent.
To replace the requirement for the submission of an annual Comprehensive Institutional Plan, Government has legislated that each institution have an Investment Management Agreement (IMA). This agreement will be struck between the MacEwan University Board of Governors and the Minister of Advanced Education. The university is currently negotiating with Advanced Education the final IMA to be signed by our Board of Governors and the Minister by April 1, 2020.
Contained in the IMA is the new outcomes-based funding model which will have performance metrics with established targets the university must meet. There is a total of 10 metrics to be implemented over three years, with the first three being implemented this year, including:
- an overall expenditure target,
- an administrative expense target, and
- enrolment targets for domestic, international, and Indigenous students.
This new outcome-based funding model signals a fundamental change in how we will need to address our budget planning for 2020/21 and future years. The IMA will determine how much of the CAG we receive over the next three years based on our ability to meet our performance targets. At risk in the first year is 15 per cent of the CAG, growing to 40 per cent in the third year of the agreement. We have also been given our expenditure target; however, we are currently negotiating this target and will need to discuss this in more detail with the Board of Governors and the department.
While our preliminary budget plan was discussed at the March 5, 2020 Board meeting, we are working to understand the full impact the IMA will have on our budget plan, and a special meeting of the Board of Governors is convened for the end of March. A proposed revised budget plan, including recommendations to meet the expenditure target, will be discussed at the special meeting along with the IMA which will be presented for Board approval. Further adjustments to our budget plans will be then be made with a final budget plan submitted to the Board for approval in May 2020.
We know that the performance targets outlined in the IMA will have a significant impact on the university budget plan and will lead to organization and staff changes. Areas of focus such as advising, financial management, and other administrative positions have been reviewed. A new advising model will be implemented and work is underway to ensure a smooth implementation of this model over the next few months.
Invitations for information sessions specific to organizational changes in advising and financial management will be sent directly to staff impacted in the coming weeks to discuss next steps. Staffing impacts as a result of the revised budget plan will be communicated between early April and the end of the fiscal year in June. I will continue to ensure that any decisions and changes to staffing levels, programs, and services will be done with careful thought, analysis, and process.
MacEwan University is an exceptional undergraduate university committed to our students and their positive student experience. We will continue to focus on creating graduates that have the skills and education necessary to support and build the future of this province. All budget decisions we make will keep students and their learning needs at the forefront.
Budget updates will continue as we move through this challenging and difficult time for our community. We are in a time of transformation for the post-secondary sector, and we can expect things will continue to change. In our work with government, we continue to advocate for a strong post-secondary sector and a funding system that works for MacEwan and most importantly, our students. We will do our best to keep the university community updated as we do. Once again, we appreciate your patience and understanding throughout this process.