U of S to decrease expenses in light of budget pressures

The University of Saskatchewan will need to decrease its expenses over the next four years in the face of budget pressures that include lower-than-requested provincial funding, salary and benefit costs rising faster than revenue increases, solvency and going concern pension issues, and the pressing need for capital renewal to support teaching, research and innovation.

By Mark Ferguson
At a public town hall meeting April 3, Provost and Vice-President Academic Brett Fairbairn and Vice-President Finance and Resources Richard Florizone outlined how the 2.1 per cent increase in the institution's operating grant for 2012-13, announced in the March 21 provincial budget, affects financial projections for the future. The university had requested a 5.8 per cent grant increase.

"Prior to knowing what our provincial grant would be, we projected a shortfall of $10 million over the next planning cycle, which is 2012-2016," said Fairbairn. "Now that we know what the grant is, our projected gap is more likely $12-15 million in 2012-13, and $20-40 million per year until 2016.

"Our challenge will be to remain focused on our institutional priorities as we work to close the gap between revenue and expenses. That said, our revenue sources are limited and our actions will centre primarily on reducing expenses. We need to think about what we will start doing, and what we will stop doing, but we must ensure that our solutions are sustainable in the long term."

The provost pointed out that declining provincial funding is not unique to Saskatchewan, and that post-secondary institutions across the country are grappling with budget pressures similar to those being experienced by the U of S.

Fairbairn explained that budget decisions will be guided by the priorities outlined in the university's recently approved third integrated plan, the academic mission of the institution and principles that include transparency, effective use of data and evidence, and decision-making at appropriate levels within the organization.

For more information, visit http://www.usask.ca/finances