Transform the SFU Experience

2024-25 Budget Information Session Summary

November 20, 2023

Throughout October and November this fall term, SFU engaged in consultation and conversations with the SFU community – across students, staff, and faculty. 

A student survey was also launched in early October, asking for input from undergraduate and graduate students on their priorities and sharing the proposal for the tuition increase. The results of this survey are currently being reviewed and will be shared when available.

On November 1, 2023, SFU hosted a Budget Information Session for faculty and staff to provide valuable insight into the university's current financial context, priorities, and challenges to consider for the upcoming 2024-25 budget.

Below, we share a few key highlights from the staff and faculty session to be transparent and empower our community with knowledge and a deeper understanding of SFU's financial landscape.

Key discussions

Led by Martin Pochurko, Vice-President, Finance and Administration and Dilson Rassier, Provost and Vice-President Academic, the information session was held virtually via Zoom and attended by approximately 180 SFU faculty and staff (up from around 155 attendees last year). 

The session, designed to meet the needs of budget leads across the university, helped attendees understand SFU’s budget process and engage more fully with their department and unit leads as teams develop next year’s budget. The session began with the leaders presenting an overview of how the university determines investment priorities using criteria like academic advancement and institutional impact, always focusing on advancing teaching, promoting an inclusive and sustainable future and ensuring financial stability. 

The presentation also provided an in-depth understanding of the budget process and current financial challenges, including the impact of external factors such as international enrollments, government funding, and economic fluctuations on the university's budget; existing commitments that align with the key initiatives outlined in What's Next: The SFU Strategy and ongoing strategic planning for SFU's future. By understanding these challenges, we can work towards finding solutions and managing resources effectively. 

Questions and answers

After the presentation, participants were invited to seek clarification on various budget-related matters, including 2023-24 budget challenges and recommendations for planning the 2024-25 budget year. Martin and Dilson answered the most upvoted questions. Attendees unable to ask questions during the session were encouraged to send them to

Some of the questions were on the following areas: 

Budget cuts and allocation

The speakers focused on how SFU is actively adapting to current economic realities while striving to maintain its commitment to academic excellence. As previously shared, the leaders discussed the university’s financial shortfall for the 2023-24 fiscal year due to lower international enrollment and other unforeseen financial challenges. These enrollment trends and the effects of inflation will continue, and SFU's budget will likely remain tight over the next few years. As the university must produce a balanced budget, SFU needs to implement targeted reductions to mitigate some of these shortfalls. Most units are expected to experience a recurring 2.2% budget cut, starting in the 2023-24 year and continuing into the 2024-25 fiscal year. These cuts must be reconciled by the end of the fiscal year in March 2024. The university will continue to make strategic financial decisions by prioritizing key areas and optimizing resource allocation.  

International student enrollment and support

SFU has long benefited from a diverse student community. Efforts are currently being focused on meeting international student enrollment targets and ensuring ample support for these students, alongside discussions regarding the potential increase in tuition rates for overseas students. The university remains committed to providing financial aid and support to encourage a supportive environment for international students and is also actively exploring alternative income streams, given the reliance on revenue from international student tuition.

Medical school

The proposed medical school at SFU has generated considerable interest and excitement within the community. The medical school submitted its draft business case to the government at the end of May 2023, seeking to develop a self-sustaining model. It anticipates a funding announcement in spring 2024, along with approvals from both the Board of Governors and the Senate. Specifics related to funding per medical student are also pending.

Hiring freeze and cost containment

To support cost containment measures, the university is instituting a hiring freeze for all continuing and temporary staff positions, effective immediately. Faculty positions are not included in this freeze to prioritize the academic mission. The staff hiring freeze will be reassessed following the completion of the budget process in March 2024, with any essential hiring exceptions requiring approval from the relevant VP and both the Provost and VPFA. This freeze aims to curb expenses and increase operational efficiency within existing staffing levels. 

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

You can watch the recording to get a more in-depth look at the session.

Next Steps

Insights learned from the student survey will be critical in understanding student priorities. In addition, the university will also complete budget reviews to ensure alignment with SFU’s strategic priorities to support the development of the budget plan for the 2024/25 fiscal year.

As we step into the final quarter of the fiscal year, we are committed to addressing our financial priorities while focusing on the university's academic mission, institutional priorities, and the student experience. 

We value your participation in these important conversations and are optimistic that together, we can work towards a sustainable future for SFU.