By Mohamed Omar
Ryerson will have to stomach a one per cent reduction in government grants and shoulder new regulations for international students as it builds its budget for next year.
The administration shared its plans at two town halls on Thursday and Monday, providing staff, faculty and students with figures and facts the school is relying on while planning its operating budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year.
Paul Stenton, vice-provost, university planning, said Thursday that the one per cent decrease, which translates to $1.8 million less in grants, will yield a 1.7 per cent reduction in the university’s departmental base budget, or “pot of money”, in order to balance revenues and costs.
And although Brad Duguid, Ontario’s new Minister of Training, Colleges, and Universities, told the
Toronto Star that he expects tuition increases next year to be less than five per cent, Stenton said the university is still waiting for an official policy to be released. President Sheldon Levy said the school is “planning with the knowledge that we have.” But Stenton said the school still has “no position” on how to respond to two new changes to international student tuition.
“The government will charge us, essentially taxing us, $750 per [international] student. Why do I say taxing? We don’t receive any government grants for international students now, so when they are doing this, what they’re doing is taking $750 off the grants that were received for domestic students,” Stenton said.
The government has also stopped its Grant in Lieu of Municipal Taxes -“a pretty arcane grant that we receive from the government that they pay to us and we pass through to the City of Toronto in lieu of property taxes,” Stenton said. “We don’t as an institution pay property taxes, but we have to pay an amount per student, $75 to the city, in lieu of that.”
With the axing of the tax grant, the school will have to pay $75 for every international undergraduate and master’s student next year, in addition to the $750 “international student recovery” fee.
“Why have they separated this out? Well, we think it’s because they think that we could increase our international fees. International fees are not regulated by the government, they’re set by the board of governors at Ryerson,” he added.
Stenton said he doesn’t know if an increase for international student tuition is on the table.
“When we bring the fees to the Board of Governors in April, we’ll have to determine that, but at this stage it hasn’t been decided,” he said.
Tuition fees and grants make up about 98 per cent of Ryerson’s revenue.
Stenton said expenditures will increase due to higher living expenses, new staff hirings and a three per cent rise in non-salary costs, such as equipment, lighting, and heat.
“We have no right at the university to have a deficit, much like the City of Toronto can’t have a deficit. We’re not like the provincial government or the federal government that [can] run deficits. It is against the law, our laws, to do that,” Levy said. “Therefore, we have to bring a budget in to balance and we have to bring it by April 30.”