St. Clair College battling projected budget shortfall

School officials have been coping with the projected loss by cutting part-time jobs and suspending some of its programs, while also trying to recruit more international students.
St. Clair College is battling a budget shortfall by reducing part-time staff and trying to increase international student enrolment. (Stacey Janzer/CBC)

With student enrolment decreasing, St. Clair College is trying to find ways to eliminate a projected $750,000 deficit this year.

School officials have been coping with the projected loss by cutting part-time jobs and suspending some of its programs, while also trying to recruit more international students.

College president Patricia France says increased operational costs and a lack of government funding have contributed to the financial struggles.

France said the school has been working all year to reduce the deficit.

"We were always striving to achieve a balanced budget," she told CBC News. "We do believe we will be closer to the balanced budget than the $750,000 [deficit].

The school has an annual budget of about $125-million.

Cutting costs

To cut costs, the college also plans to stop managing the Capitol Theatre in Chatham. School officials wanted to introduce an academic program at its Thames campus that would work with the theater, which runs a small annual deficit, but those plans fell through.

Finding someone else to take over the theatre will help St. Clair College reduce its operating costs.

The school will also try to increase the number of international students as a way to increase income levels.

St. Clair has about 800 international students, which is up from the 250 it had five years ago, but the school wants to have even more. John Fairley, vice-president of college and community relations, said it would like to see about 1,000 international students in the next couple years.

"We've been really trying to reach out," he said of the school's recruiting efforts.