Dear members of the McGill community,
From the onset of the COVID-19 crisis in Quebec, my team and I have been working hard to keep the community apprised of how the University is navigating this crisis and its impact on academic life at McGill. I am committed to maintaining ongoing communications with the McGill community as we continue to persevere through this period of adversity and uncertainty together.
Today, I write to update you on another important element of the future: the University’s Fiscal Year 2021 Budget. Last Thursday, April 23rd, McGill’s Board of Governors approved a provisional FY21 budget. This is exceptional. In normal circumstances, the Board approves a final budget for the upcoming fiscal year, including a five-year forecast of revenues and expenditures. However, because of the uncertainties associated with COVID-19, the Board agreed to accept a provisional budget and forego the usual five-year forecast, on the condition that I present an updated, revised budget six months into the fiscal year.
The largest budgetary uncertainty we face concerns revenues. Like all universities, McGill’s revenues are enrolment driven: 80% of our revenues come from student tuition and fees and the enrolment-driven Quebec grant to support our academic activities.
McGill, again like all universities, is anticipating a decline in student enrolment, due to many factors. In McGill’s case, the fact that approximately 50 percent of our students are from outside Quebec makes this a particularly high risk. Consequently, the provisional budget I prepared includes several expenditure control measures to mitigate the impact of enrolment-driven revenue losses. These measures include:
- Suspension of tenure-track and contract academic hiring until further notice (with the exception of course lecturers where necessary to ensure program continuity)
- Suspension of administrative and support staff hiring until further notice
- Salary freeze for all senior administrators and Deans
- Six-month deferral of merit-based salary increases for all non-unionized academic and administrative support staff
- Deferring planned expenditures across all sectors of the University
- Additional non-salary expenditure reductions of approximately 3%
- Restricting new expenditure allocations to mission-critical activities (including those that may be necessary to adjust to post-COVID 19 conditions), core operations, and contractual obligations.
Because capital projects are not funded from the operating revenue of the University, critical capital infrastructure projects will continue.
I am confident that these measures will allow McGill to enter the post-COVID 19 world with strength, unimpaired in our capacity to fulfill our essential mission.
These measures will be reviewed after six months, at which point I hope that financial circumstances will permit the easing of some. Having said this, in the interests of being fully transparent, I must be clear that additional measures may be necessary should the University’s financial position deteriorate further than the provisional FY21 budget anticipates.
In the coming weeks, I will be holding a series of town halls to hear from members of the McGill community on budget and academic planning.
In closing, my sincere thanks to each of you for your understanding and collaboration as we continue to work through this challenging period as a community.
Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic)