Manitoba

Post-secondary schools surpass $13M scholarship fundraising target set by Tories

Manitoba post-secondary institutions managed to surpass a scholarship donation target set by the Progressive Conservative government, despite fears from the Opposition NDP that colleges and universities were at risk of coming up short ahead of the fiscal year-end deadline.

Early signs show Manitoba colleges, universities raised more than target for scholarship and bursary program

The Manitoba Scholarship and Bursary Initiative aimed to have post-secondary schools raise $13 million in private donations by the end of the 2017-18 fiscal year, with the province matching that with $7 million. A preliminary count suggests universities and colleges raised at least $15.9 million. (Mark Felix/The Orange County Register/Associated Press)

Manitoba post-secondary institutions managed to surpass a scholarship donation target set by the Progressive Conservative government, despite fears from the Opposition NDP that colleges and universities were at risk of coming up short ahead of the fiscal year-end deadline.

The PC government tasked post-secondary schools with coming up with $13 million from corporate and private sponsors for the Manitoba Scholarship and Bursary Initiative by March 31.

While some schools have yet to turn in their final tallies and a final calculation has yet to be done, what has been reported shows colleges and universities exceeded that total, a spokesperson for Education Minister Ian Wishart said Thursday.

Six institutions alone raised more than $14 million, according to figures obtained by CBC News.

The Tories introduced the new $20-million scholarship program after being elected in 2016. During 2017-18, the program's first year, the province said it would chip in one-third (or $7 million) of the $20 million, so long as schools raised the rest through the private sector.

In recent months NDP Leader Wab Kinew and education critic Matt Wiebe suggested the schools were in danger of coming up short.

In March, the NDP released the results of two freedom of information requests that suggested post-secondary schools had raised just $8.2 million, with only weeks until the fiscal year end of March 31.

But CBC News has received updated figures from a series of post-secondary schools that show colleges and universities collectively raised millions more than the $13-million target.

Wishart said his department is pleased the preliminary numbers suggest schools managed to beat the donation target.

"We saw good participation from colleges and universities and an eagerness to learn this new system and raise $13 million in private and corporate donations by March 31," Wishart said in a statement.

"As expected, many waited until the end of the fiscal year to report their numbers, so we continue to receive tallies from institutions and cannot yet provide you with the grand total," the statement said.

"The previous provincial program only committed $4 million a year to post-secondary support, so we are pleased to help students by making up to $20 million available through this initiative and providing more money to students up front."

Schools raised at least $15.9M

New totals from six institutions — Assiniboine Community College ($300,000), Université de Saint-Boniface ($381,212), Brandon University ($635,800), Red River College ($2,283,208) and the universities of Winnipeg ($2,234,273) and Manitoba ($8.7 million) — show they alone raised $14,534,493.

Taken together with old figures from remaining post-secondary institutions, colleges and universities raised at least $15.9 million, according to calculations by CBC News.

John Danakas, public affairs executive director for the University of Manitoba, said the $8.7 million raised by the U of M isn't a true total as it excludes any donations that came in during March, which he says are still being processed.

"[The Manitoba Scholarship and Bursary Initiative] is one component of the annual fundraising efforts for scholarships and bursaries," Danakas said. "It adds value to the fundraising effort, but it's one piece of a larger fundraising effort that the University of Manitoba, and other universities in the province, undertake each year in raising funds for students."

Wiebe said the cost of a post-secondary education is going up under Premier Brian Pallister, regardless of bursaries.

"Pallister's tuition fee increases will cost every student in Manitoba thousands of dollars more over the course of their programs, and his cuts will make it harder for colleges and universities to give students the education they deserve," Wiebe said in a statement.

"Bursaries will only help some students, so we are focused on how to build an education system that is affordable for everyone."

now