Transform the SFU Experience

Understanding SFU's Budget and Budget Process

October 30, 2023

As SFU enters the budget cycle for 2024/25, it’s important to understand the strategic and thoughtful approach we take towards our financial processes and decision-making to support our work towards advancing an inclusive and sustainable future. The following guide will provide insight into the budget process, the ongoing fiscal situation, and recent achievements and plans moving forward into 2024.

Our Budget Process

Starting this year, the Budget Office will have a dual reporting structure, reporting to both the Provost and Vice President, Academic, and the Vice-President, Finance and Administration. This transition to shared responsibility for the university budget and budget process will ensure that financial and operational decisions at SFU are made through an academic lens.

The budget process is a collaboration between the Office of the Provost and Vice-President, Academic, the Office of the Vice-President, Finance and Administration and supporting administrative units. SFU follows a decentralized budget model, meaning that the faculties and supporting units are responsible for ensuring a balanced budget within their portfolio. SFU actively engages with key internal groups during the annual planning cycle (September – October) and provides information sessions for the upcoming budget cycle for faculty and staff. These information sessions allow teams to engage more fully with the budget leads within their portfolios who develop their team’s budgets. The budget allocations are finalized in November.

Achievements in 2023

SFU continued prioritizing its academic mission and achieving the key initiatives outlined in What's Next: The SFU Strategy. These strategic long-term investments are in areas including student experience, student housing, financial support, reconciliation, equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI), climate action and becoming a living wage employer.

Upholding Truth and Reconciliation: Construction has begun on the First Peoples’ Gathering House and new Indigenous Student Centre spaces also opened on the Burnaby and Surrey campuses, with work ongoing to open a space at the Vancouver campus.

Engaging in Global Challenges: In 2022, SFU became the first university to invest $10 million in the Vancity Community Investment Bank, funding affordable housing, green energy, and social projects locally and nationwide. Furthering our commitment to environmental responsibility, we continue to redirect a significant portion of our fixed-income portfolio into fossil-fuel-free funds.

Transform the SFU Experience: SFU’s Board of Governors approved a scholarship contribution of $5,400 each to all eligible Ph.D. students entering programs this fall and those in the first four years of their program, impacting 800 doctoral research students. Over 800 scholarships, awards, and bursaries reinforce our commitment to student support.

SFU also launched two new housing projects—the Courtyard Residence and graduate and family housing—on the Burnaby campus. This not only improves the student experience but also relieves pressure on B.C.’s rental housing market.

SFU IT continued to improve WiFi connectivity across the campus enhancing working, learning and engaging online. We also opened the new state-of-the- art 24/7 Dining Commons in 2022, offering another dining and social space for our vibrant community.

Make a difference for B.C.: SFU is taking steps to become a living wage employer for all employees. This will include adding a Living Wage requirement to contracts so that contracted workers in food services, cleaning and other services are guaranteed a living wage by their employers.

Current Financial Situation

Like other post-secondary institutions, SFU is also facing setbacks caused by lower international enrollments and increasing cost pressures, which are out of our control. We anticipate these trends to continue. However, it's important to recognize that these challenges are part of the evolving higher education landscape, and our financial strategies are designed to adapt and ensure SFU's continued success.

To navigate these challenges, we stress the importance of smart financial decisions, cost savings, reduced spending, operational efficiency enhancements, collaboration, and revenue generation across the university.

Looking Ahead At 2024

As we navigate through the coming year together, our priority is to ensure financial stability while advancing our important plans and projects. Join us on November 1 for the Budget Information Session to learn more about SFU's budget process and institutional priorities and challenges so that you can engage more fully with your department and unit budget leads.

Thank you for your continued interest and engagement in SFU's financial well-being.