Mount Allison President Jean-Paul Boudreau says the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, including an anticipated drop in student enrollment, will result in a substantial shortfall in university revenues.
“It will be in the millions, it will be less than $10 million, but it will be a high number,” Boudreau told an online meeting of Sackville Town Council last week.
“Some difficult decisions will have to be made and some have been made,” he added after noting that wages and salaries account for 75% of the university’s expenses.
Although Boudreau gave no details during the council meeting, the university announced a series of measures last week that it said had affected 52 employees in one of three ways:
- 16 employees had their hours reduced for the summer, most with a specific date for when they will return to full-time hours
- 25 employees received temporary layoff notices, but some have since been recalled
- 11 employees received layoff notices with no recall date
Many of the affected employees are members of CUPE, the union that represents clerical staff as well as custodial, maintenance, trades and groundskeeping workers.
A CUPE news release called the layoffs “unnecessary and unfair” quoting Lori MacKay, the union’s national servicing representative as saying they would generate savings of only 0.006% of last year’s $46 million operating budget.
“Mount A’s administration has not shared with us adequate student enrollment projections for fall 2020,” MacKay says in the release.
During last week’s town council meeting, Boudreau said it’s too early to estimate student enrollment for the coming year, but he did say that enrollment drops at all universities in Atlantic Canada could range from a low of 10% to “upwards of 40%.”
According to the Association of Atlantic Universities, a preliminary survey of full-time enrollment at Mt. A. on October 1 last year came up with the figure 2,180. And, according to Mt. A. budget figures, last year’s enrollment generated revenues from regular tuition and student fees of almost $19.9 million.
But according to Boudreau, this year will be different.
“If you look at the potential deficit impact, it ranges from $100 to $200 million dollars in one year in Atlantic Canada alone,” he warned.
“It’s going to be a bumpy road ahead,” he said. “I’m going to keep my CEO of Optimism hat on and hope that we will weather the storm.”
It appears that the whole world is sliding towards a basic on-line education system, except for the portion of courses that have to be hands-on. It would appear that the universities have got to rethink their futures.
Mount Allison is certainly one of the very lucky ones with an endowment fund that apparently now exceeds $200 million, the second highest per capita of all the universities in Canada. Given the 2,180 student population figure above, this would incredibly be around $92,000 for each student.