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2023-24 Budget Conversations Summary
For Budget Conversations 2023-24, SFU engaged with students, faculty and staff to understand the priorities to consider for the upcoming budget, as well as for future financial planning.
This year leadership connected with our SFU community across some different platforms to help foster more participation and conversation through surveys and interactive and engaging online sessions.
The student budget conversation included a first-ever Instagram Live session hosted by the Provost and Associate VP Students & International during lunch time on October 12. There were 270 participants that tuned into the Instagram Live session and a total of 968 students completed the survey (88 per cent undergraduate and 12 per cent graduate students).
Student Survey Key Findings –
- We learned that funding sources for undergraduate students for tuition and living costs are from: parents/guardians 71 per cent, personal savings 45 per cent, and employment 33 per cent
- Undergraduate students ranked academic excellence 30 per cent and financial support 25 per cent as the top ranked priorities; and ranked on-campus housing availability 22 per cent and transportation to campus 17 per cent as the lowest ranking priority
- We learned that funding sources for graduate students for tuition and living costs are from: scholarships and bursaries 65 per cent, employment 53 per cent, and personal savings 53 per cent
- Graduate students ranked financial support 54 per cent and academic excellence 20 per cent as their top priorities; and ranked on-campus housing availability 18 per cent and on-campus food quality 18 per cent, and campus life 18 per cent as the lowest ranked priorities
By tuition type:
- Domestic students ranked academic excellence 31 per cent and financial support 23 per cent as the highest ranked priority; and ranked on-campus housing availability 26 per cent and on-campus affordability 17 per cent as the lowest ranked priority
- International students ranked financial support 43 per cent and academic excellence 22 per cent as the highest ranked priority; and ranked transportation to campus as the lowest ranked priority
- When international and graduate students were asked about tuition model preferences and which options would be most helpful when planning how to fund their tuition:
- 65 per cent of international undergraduate respondents would prefer a guaranteed tuition rate at the start of their degree based on the number of courses registered and that would stay constant for the duration of their program (up to 5 years).
- 58 per cent of graduate respondents would prefer a guaranteed per program tuition model (i.e., a set fee for a degree).
Faculty and staff
The faculty and staff budget conversation session was held on October 17, 2022 via Zoom with 155 participants attending (up from approximately 80 attendees last year). Faculty and staff can watch the recording here. Around 500 participants took the faculty and staff budget survey (respondents were 24 per cent faculty and 76 per cent staff).
Faculty and staff survey key findings -
- Impact of budget challenges: 59 per cent of respondents rated talent recruitment and retention and 43 per cent rated inflationary pressures as having the highest impact on their operating budgets.
- Top budget priorities: 53 per cent of respondents cited Academic mission and 39 per cent cited student experience and campus vibrancy as the most important priorities.
- Student support: 51 per cent of respondents said health and wellbeing should receive more funding, while about half of respondents said student financial and instructional support should also increase.
- Faculty support: 77 per cent of respondents want more funding for faculty recruitment and retention while 57 per cent want more research support.
- Staff support: 62 per cent of respondents want more funding for health and wellness and HR support for staff recruitment and retention, while 57 per cent said funding should be increased for training and development.
- Regarding interest in learning about SFU’s budget, 56 per cent said they would like to know more about SFU’s budget model, while 40 per cent said more information on the discretionary budget allocations would be useful.
Faculty and staff emphasized the importance of the academic mission, academic excellence, student and instructional financial support, student experience and campus vibrancy. Health and wellbeing and improving HR processes and IT services also ranked high, as well as recognition of the importance of continued investment in reconciliation and EDI. The survey findings also align with SFU What’s Next results, including priorities of teaching and programs, research, improving student, faculty and staff experience and campuses and facilities. We are performing well in some of these areas and continue to work on others.
Next steps for the 2023-24 budget process
All of this input has been used as the base for budget discussions this year—and years ahead.
We will continue to invest in the academic and research mission of the university. In addition, investments in areas that are important to you and in line with the survey findings will continue, including:
- Reconciliation, including establishing Indigenous leadership, developing the First Peoples’ Gathering House, and implementing the pathways report
- Student Experience and Student Housing
- Climate Action – and work towards the Race to Zero
- SFU as a Living Wage Employer
- Campaign Planning and Fundraising for additional student support and resources
Given the current financial challenges SFU faces, our budget will remain tight over the next couple of years.
We acknowledge that the last few years have, and continue to be, a challenging time for students and that some students continue to be acutely affected. We continue to actively look for opportunities to address student affordability challenges. In recognition of these challenges, we have strived to keep tuition increases low. The 2023-24 budget will include a proposed tuition increase of two per cent for domestic students and four per cent for international students. The Student Affordability Working Group continues to meet regularly to address aspects of student affordability, including student housing, food security, open education resources and more. SFU also invests funding from tuition for student support and services per our commitment to contribute a portion of tuition revenue beyond the two per cent increase. Over 800+ scholarships, awards and bursaries are offered to undergraduate and graduate students (including international students) as part of SFU’s financial aids and supports.
As the university is required to produce a balanced budget, we will need to implement targeted reductions across SFU’s overall budget to reduce expenses. Budget planning work will continue in portfolios across the institution, where targeted budget reductions will be necessary. As the importance of the academic mission is continually raised, SFU will ensure that the effect of the institutional budget reductions is minimal on academic operations. The university also continues to invest in key areas, including Indigenous leadership and program support, HR resources, EDI, and IT security, which have been consistently raised by students, faculty, and staff.
It is important that we continue to make smart financial decisions, reduce spending where possible, as well as explore opportunities for revenue generation during these tight fiscal times.
Thank you all for your support as we navigate this together.