Ryerson’s recent property grabs have caused its budget surplus to drop by 95 per cent, according to a quarterly financial report released to the Board of Governors this week.
Although next year’s budget isn’t finalized, the school could have to hike tuition or make cuts to keep the school on track financially.
“The budget committee is finalizing what are the strategies,” said President Sheldon Levy. “It’s not anything desperate. We will find a reasonable strategy.”
Last year, Ryerson posted a surplus of $22.8 million in its operating budget. The school is already down to $5.4 million as of the end of January, and the finance committee projects it will slide to $1.7 million by the end of the fiscal year on April 30.
Two months ago, Ryerson forked out $40 million to buy four properties — Sam the Record Man, the Future Shop next door, a parking lot on Church Street and a Bond Street office building — which Levy confirmed accounted for much of the fall in the surplus. Paul Stenton, vice provost of university planning, also suggested that the school isn’t getting its fair share of provincial money.
Ryerson ranks fourth from the bottom in a list of 21 Ontario universities when it comes to funding per full-time student.
The provincial government’s multibillion dollar Reaching Higher program is also not providing as much money as it did last year.
“It was a front-end loaded program and it’s plateaued,” Stenton said. The problem with Reaching Higher and other similar programs is that they don’t incorporate inflation into their calculations, meaning that their value decreases from year to year, Levy said. Higher than expected enrollment across Ontario’s post-secondary system also drained some money from the program.
Stenton also revealed that the school might not see any of the $200 million allocated to post-secondary schools by the federal government. The money was transferred by the federal government to the province, but Stenton suggested Queen’s Park put the money into general revenue rather than passing it on to the schools.
The school can either increase tuition or cut funding to programs and services to restore the surplus. Levy has previously ruled out increasing enrollment, saying that the school doesn’t have the space to take in more students.