Cape Breton University lays off staff, hikes tuition as it braces for shortfall
University depends heavily on international students, anticipates enrollment to decline this fall
Cape Breton University is raising tuition, laying off employees and rolling back wages in an effort to avoid a financial shortfall of up to $45 million.
In a news release, the university said it is looking for ways to "creatively cut costs" during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Those include eliminating 60 term jobs, temporarily laying off another 40 people during the summer, and cancelling all work-related travel.
CBU has also rolled back wages by up to 10 percent for some non-union staff and senior administrators, and has frozen wages for some others.
Tuition will also increase by three percent, or about $24 per course.
Gordon Macinnis, vice-president of finances and operations, said the university is looking for savings as it braces for a decline in enrollment this fall.
"Our focus has been one of, if I can use the analogy, trying to stop the bleeding over the summer months, to put the university in as good a position as we can for September 1st," MacInnis said on CBC Cape Breton's Mainstreet.
Nearly two-thirds of the 5,500 students at Cape Breton University are from other countries.
MacInnis said the university expects a drop in the number of new students enrolling this fall, even though the federal government has introduced rules that allow international students to begin their studies in Canada from their home countries.
He said CBU saw a decline in the spring/summer semester, in the first weeks of the pandemic, as student plans were disrupted by travel restrictions and visa processing issues.
"We will not get nearly the uptake that we would have gotten if students had been able to get to Canada," he said.
He said they also expect a drop in the number of returning international students, as those students struggle to find jobs locally to help fund their education.
Although tuition will increase for the fall semester, CBU said it will waive some student costs, including lab and campus activity fees.
MacInnis said the university has also set aside $540,000 in a bursary program to offset fees for students in need.
With files from CBC Cape Breton's Mainstreet