The University of Prince Edward Island won't get any new money in the latest provincial budget released Wednesday.
The budget news came as UPEI President Alaa Abd-El-Aziz held a forum Wednesday afternoon to discuss the school's financial situation.
Faculty and staff packed into the forum, voicing their concerns over the school’s financial woes.
"There’s been a sort of sense of doom and gloom that has trickled all the way down to the level of faculty ," said Ann Braithwaite, with UPEI’s Women’s Studies program.
"With this magnitude of difficulties, there is always emotion and there is panic," said Abd-El-Aziz.
The UPEI President says the university is falling short by about $5.5 million, and on top of that another $3.5 million for the Atlantic Veterinary College.
By law, the school is not allowed to run a deficit, so that will mean finding $9 million to meet the shortfall within departments.
There was no additional funding in Wednesday's provincial budget, meaning the provincial grant will remain the same as in previous years, despite increased costs.
The HST alone will cost the school about $450,000.
"The government has been working with us, they're trying to do their best, and I respect that, but it still puts a lot of pressure on me to try to adjust and balance my budget," said Abd-El-Aziz.
Revenue has been decreasing because of a decline in enrollment. Student numbers are expected to take a 20 per cent drop over the next 13 years — that's because of fewer children in the school system.
Tuition will be going up but there's no word on how much.
Abd-El-Aziz was tight-lipped on which faculties will be hit the hardest.
Ron MacDonald, with the UPEI Faculty of Education, said rumours that cuts in the education department could be as high as 25 per cent.
"With that kind of scenario, that would certainly affect the number of instructors. The class size may increase of course with fewer instructors," said MacDonald.
"There's a lot more than simply a budget going on here," said Braithwaite. "There's also curriculum and programming and who we are as a university, and a lot of us feel like that conversation is not happening."
Abd-El-Aziz tried to end the meeting on an optimistic note, saying the school it has gone through hard times before and it will persevere.
He said that one option is to try and boost enrollment by recruiting more students from off-Island, specifically Ontario
The budget committee will consider feedback from Wednesday’s meeting and present its budget to the finance committee in a few days. That will then go to the Board of Governors who will present the final budget in May.