Laurentian University to eliminate $10M in spending to balance budget

Laurentian University plans to balance its books for 2019-2020 but will have to eliminate $10.1 million in spending to achieve that, according to interim president Pierre Zundel.

Draft budget presented to Senate

(Erik White/CBC)

Laurentian University plans to balance its books for 2019-2020 but will have to eliminate $10.1 million in spending to achieve that, according to interim president Pierre Zundel. 

He says the draft budget has been presented to the Senate and the final version will likely go the Board of Governors in June.

He says the provincially-mandated 10 per cent tuition reduction alone means $5.5 million less to spend in the budget, although he says it will partially be off-set with the Northern Sustainability Fund created by the province and meant to help northern institutions struggling with the cut.

However, he says the university has to apply for that and it's not clear what the amount will be.

Pierre Zundel is the Interim President of Laurentian University. (Marina von Stackelberg/CBC)

Zundel says last year's recall of 130 Saudi Arabian students cost the university about $3 million, and there has been a general decline in enrolment.

He says there will be fewer faculty and staff going forward as well.

The positions will be lost through attrition, says Zundel, and no jobs are being cut outright.

"There was one structural change announced earlier this year with one associate vice-president position that was eliminated," he says.

"I think the vast majority of our job cuts going forward will be through attrition...but certainly no massive job cuts here at Laurentian."

However, he says it's a balancing act.

"Because there are positions that have become vacant that will not be replaced and we are replacing a few where we absolutely need to in order to maintain accreditation and so on."

That's not sitting well with the Laurentian University Faculty Association (LUFA).

President Fabrice Colin says his members are concerned. 

He says five faculty positions became vacant in the past year due to members dying, and there is no indication the university plans to fill them.

He's not sure exactly how many positions will be left vacant ultimately, noting there is no mandatory retirement for professors.

He says faculty want to see a more open budget process, where all expenses are examined and considered.

"And not only academic expenses, so to us there is an important difference to administration belt-tightening and cutting academic resources."

Colin says the changes could mean fewer courses, fewer faculty members and fewer programs for Laurentian students.

He says LUFA is also concerned about $200,000 in cuts to the library, and a reduction in transfer funding to the three federated schools: University of Sudbury, Thornloe University and Huntington University.

with files from Angela Gemmill


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