Dear Brock community,
As Niagara’s publicly-assisted university, Brock has played a critical role in this region and this province for nearly 60 years.
More than 119,000 students have earned Brock degrees since 1964, becoming leaders in their communities and filling important roles at all levels of society.
Brock is a catalyst for the region’s sustainability, growth and development, and integrates research, teaching, learning and service into innumerable, valuable community programs and partnerships.
We’ve developed and expanded academic programs to meet labour market needs in areas such as nursing, education and engineering (among others), while expanding course delivery to include flexible online options.
And we’ve even been consistently named a top employer, including one of Forbes’ Top Employers in Canada in 2023.
Our researchers tackle some of the world’s most challenging problems, their work providing invaluable benefit to individuals across Canada and around the globe. Yet they also work with local industry and other partners to address immediate issues of competitiveness, innovation, and community needs.
We’ve been able to play these critical roles because Brock has been an exceptional steward of the limited public dollars we receive.
But like universities across the province, Brock has faced increasing financial pressures for many years. Those pressures have now reached historic levels due to a number of factors.
Base operating grants to universities from the province have been declining as a proportion of our revenue for decades. Today they represent 25.5 per cent of Brock’s revenue, down from 33.4 per cent in 2013-14 and 42 per cent in 2004-05.
Operating grants were frozen in 2006-07, which according to the Council of Ontario Universities means a decline of 31 per cent after accounting for inflation. Ontario universities already receive the lowest operating grant per full-time equivalent student of any province.
In 2017, the province also restricted enrolment growth with the establishment of the corridor model. This means that if we take in more students than our corridor allotment, those students are not included in funding received from the government.
And in 2019, the provincial government cut tuition rates by 10 per cent and has frozen them at that level. This immediately eliminated $15.4 million (approximately 5 per cent) of Brock’s budget. This tuition cut and freeze has effectively taken us back to 2014 rates.
As Brock was welcoming students back onto campus for the 2021-22 academic year following COVID-19 disruptions, visa processing delays impacted our international student recruitment efforts. We saw more than 200 international students register and pay a deposit but be unable to come to Canada, most due to visa delays.
And of course, Brock is not immune to other financial pressures. Several years of compensation restraint under Bill 124 has increased the pressure on employers to reach salary settlements that keep us competitive in the labour market and, coupled with the impact of global inflation, is resulting in higher compensation costs to the institution.
On top of all these financial pressures, Brock also has a large deferred maintenance backlog, a need for a new student information system, and students requiring additional mental health supports.
Brock is not alone in experiencing financial pressures from these changes. As you may be aware, a number of other institutions — including Queen’s University, Guelph University, Wilfrid Laurier and Waterloo — have all indicated that, like Brock, they are facing historic budget shortfalls.
Over the years, Brock has found ways to ensure it remains financially sustainable, including through hiring pauses and budget reductions. We can no longer continue to offer a world class education and exceptional student experience unless the provincial government takes action to ensure that Ontario’s universities have a sustainable future.
Declining operating grants, restricted enrolment growth and frozen tuition levels are taking their toll, and the time has come for the government to support the financial sustainability of universities by addressing the funding shortfall.
On Wednesday, Nov. 15, the province’s blue-ribbon panel on post-secondary education released its recommendations to keep the education sector financially stable. Brock remains hopeful that the government will act on these recommendations and close the funding gap. This will provide ongoing support for universities trying to keep pace with the increased demands for critical services and supports around mental health, student experience, advancing equity, diversity, inclusion and decolonization, technology in the classroom, research security, housing and more.
Universities play an invaluable role in our society, and we join our colleagues at the Council of Ontario Universities in strongly advocating for critical government support.
We need substantial, multi-year commitments of government funding, as well as flexibility on tuition, for Brock to continue to be able to provide the exceptional education and student experience it’s known for.
President and Vice-Chancellor
Provost and Vice-President, Academic