Low enrolment may cause deficit, lead to tuition increase for some students

Mount Allison University dependent on student tuition fees for 45 per cent of its budget

On March 8 and 9, Mount Allison hosted two town hall meetings to discuss the 2018-19 University budget. Despite the stormy weather, a number of faculty and students were in attendance to hear a presentation by Robert Inglis, the vice-president of finance.

The issue of enrolment was the centrepiece of Inglis’s presentation. This past year, the University budgeted for 700 incoming students, though only 600 ended up attending. The drop in enrolment makes it difficult to guess how many students will attend in the coming year. This is an issue because fewer students paying tuition means less money for the budget than expected.

An incoming class of only 625 students would mean a $750 000 deficit in the university budget for the 2018-2019 year. Sarah Noonan/Argosy

Inglis argued that an incoming class of 625 students for the 2018-19 school year would likely mean a $750,000 deficit. This is assuming a two per cent increase in tuition and one per cent increase in the N.B. provincial government’s grant. This tuition increase would not exceed two per cent for international or New Brunswick students but could go higher for out-of-province students.

Inglis explained that Mt. A’s revenue is broken into three main sections: 45 per cent comes from tuition fees, 45 per cent from a provincial government grant and the other 10 per cent from the endowment, interest and other minor sources of income such as the Fitness Centre.

“That’s why discussions about recruitment are so important,” said Inglis. The difference between expected student numbers and the actual numbers makes a $1.2 million difference on the $45 million budget.

The challenge of not knowing how many first-year students will come to and stay at Mt. A for four years makes forecasting the budget difficult. The University is highly cautious about running a deficit.

Gloria Jollymore, the vice-president of university advancement, was in attendance and spoke to how deficits can negatively impact potential donors. “It gives donors confidence when we don’t have a deficit,” she said.

Kira Gill-Maher, a third-year international relations student, attended the town hall and believes it’s important for students to stay informed about university affairs. She also pointed out how Centennial Hall is physically inaccessible for some, so having a town hall gives the opportunity for students to ask questions. “I think it is also important to look at the University’s financial dilemmas from another perspective – it’s not always black and white,” said Gill-Maher.

The University’s budget affects all aspects of student life but despite the opportunity to ask questions at a town hall, it remains difficult for students to understand the financial workings of the institution.

Lily Falk