Brock returns to a balanced budget, but there’s work to do

For the first time in a decade, Brock University is starting a new fiscal year with a balanced budget plan in which expenses are met by revenues.

Earlier this month the University’s Board of Trustees approved a 2017-18 financial plan that comes in at just under $324 million. Brock’s fiscal year runs from May 1 to April 30.

Being one of the area’s biggest employers, two-thirds of Brock’s expenses — more than $213.3 million — are wages and benefits. Brock has 1,570 full-time and 1,100 part-time employees, and in a typical year, can employ 4,000 temporary contract staff. The University further impacts the Niagara economy through goods or services purchased from local businesses, and last year spent more than $23 million on this.

On the income side of the new budget, about 70 per cent of revenues will come through tuition, student fees and other sources such as parking, facility rentals and conferences. The Ontario government’s operating grant this year will come to $96.3 million, covering about 30 per cent of budgeted revenues.

In terms of dollars per student, Brock has received the lowest provincial grant funding of any Ontario university, though Brock officials are hopeful this discrepancy will be addressed later this year when the Province unveils a new funding formula for universities.

While the budget calls for completing the year with no deficit, that result is dependent upon a significant factor: Brock must generate an additional $3 million by exceeding the base enrolment forecast by three per cent, either through greater student retention or new student recruitment or a combination of both. This means increasing the headcount by between 255 and 390 students (depending on the mix of international and domestic students), in an era when Ontario universities are competing to grow domestic undergraduate enrolment from a shrinking pool of applicants.

Brian Hutchings, Vice-President Administration, said the scenario is not without challenges, but he feels momentum is on the University’s side, given Brock’s emerging reputation and growing sense of itself.

“For several years Brock employees have worked hard to tackle deficits and help the University regain control of its future,” said Hutchings.

“It hasn’t been easy, hasn’t been painless and we are not yet out of the woods. But the effort has had a unifying effect. There’s a sense of confidence and determination around campus that we will continue to make Brock a destination for more and more people.”

For more details and breakouts for Brock’s 2017-18 budget, see the full report.

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