UNBC presents balanced budget, but tuition hikes, deficits, on the horizon

South view of the Prince George campus during the winter season. Photo by UNBC.

The University of Northern British Columbia has a balanced budget for next year, but Fort St. John students can still expect tuitions to rise when they head back to classes.

The university’s Board of Governors approved May 30 a $75-million operating budget for 2015-16, however, that budget forecasts future deficits in the face of dwindling tuition revenues and government grants against rising salary costs.

“UNBC faces fiscal challenges, and this budget does a very good job of explaining them,” President Daniel Weeks said in a release.

In order to balance this year’s budget, the Board approved a two per cent tuition fee increase, and are drawing down on some of the university’s reserve accounts to maintain existing service levels, according to the release.

Full-time undergrad students can expect their tuition to rise about $99 per year under the increase to about $5,010 per year, according to the university.

The board also approved a a temporary decrease to the university’s utility budget, and approved a temporary increase to investment incomes, decisions both made based on prior year’s results, the release stated.

The budget projects a deficit of $3.7-million for 2016-17, according to Weeks. The administration has a mandate from the Board to develop strategies to address and avoid a deficit, he said.

One strategy includes matching budget development with academic planning, said Weeks.

“This process is being refined this year to allow more comprehensive budget consultation and planning to begin this fall,” he stated.

The university receives the bulk of its operating budget, about 63 per cent, through provincial grants. Another 24 per cent comes from tuition fees.

The university says wages and benefits account for about 70 per cent of its expenditures.

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