Balanced budget approved for 2011–12

By Colleen MacPherson The U of S Board of Governors has approved a balanced budget for 2011-12 that shows expected revenue of just over $420 million, up about $31 million over the previous year, and expenditures that continue to focus on institutional priorities like enhancing the student experience and raising the institution’s research profile.

The majority of the university's operating revenue – 70 per cent – comes from the provincial government with tuition accounting for an additional 22 per cent. Investment income, interprovincial funding for the Western College of Veterinary Medicine and other sources make up the remainder. This year's operating grant from the province includes $5.8 million in new targeted funding for specific initiatives including the College of Nursing program, the International Centre for Northern Governance and Development and more seats in the College of Medicine. The province is again this year providing $860,000 in matching funds for undergraduate and graduate student scholarships.

Approved at the board's May 10 meeting, the operating budget does not include revenue received for specific purposes like capital or research projects and so represents only about half of the total revenue the university expects in 2011-12.

In a media release about the 2011-12 operating budget, Provost and Vice-President Academic Brett Fairbairn said the support of the province for post-secondary education means the U of S can continue to invest strategically "in our priority areas like providing an exceptional experience for our students, both graduate and undergraduate." The result will be success for students who can then make a positive contribution to the city and the province in their chosen fields, he said.

On the expenditure side, the university projects that it will spend about $288 million on salaries and benefits for employees, an increase of about $23 million over 2010-11. A portion of that increase reflects the creation of incremental positions across campus such as those needed to support the new provincial nursing program. The remainder will be costs associated with collective agreements including normal salary progressions. The increase will be partially offset by retirements and resignations.

Another large expenditure for the university is utilities (electricity, natural gas, water, telephone, hardware and network maintenance, and software licenses). These costs represent about five per cent of total expenditures, or about $20 million for the year.

Detailed in the budget are specific expenditures to support strategic initiatives from the current integrated plan. These include $9.25 million in central scholarship and bursary funding, $788,000 for the Student Services Fund which covers costs for various initiatives that benefit students like the student information system, $9.1 million for library acquisitions and about $7 million for the Academic Priorities Fund. In addition, $6.3 million of tuition revenue is earmarked for student-related enhancements to services and programs.

Two strategic research initiatives will also receive funding from the operating budget. The university will contribute $1.3 million to the $8 million commissioning and operating expenses for InterVac with the remainder anticipated from the Canada Foundation for Innovation and the provincial government. The Canada Excellence Research Chair in Water Security, a three-way $30 million commitment involving the federal and provincial governments as well as the university, will receive $1.6 million although fundraising efforts are underway to support the university's contribution.

Separate from the university's operating budget is its capital budget, which will be considered by the Board of Governors at its June meeting.

More information about the 2011-12 operating budget can be found at or

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