MacEwan University eyes job cuts, tuition hike in wake of grant reduction

MacEwan University is planning layoffs as it braces for an anticipated $17-million reduction in provincial funding.

The downtown Edmonton institution is one of the schools hit hardest by cuts to provincial operating grants announced in last month’s budget.

“We know that with these levels of reductions, there are simply not enough non-salary savings or short-term revenue growth opportunities available for us to balance the 2019/20 and 2020/21 budgets without a reduction in positions,” MacEwan University said in an emailed statement Friday.

The school does not have timelines in place yet, but said it has to create a plan and submit it for government approval by Dec. 2.

MacEwan arrived at its $17 million estimate by accounting for reductions in the level of grant funding it receives from the province that have already been announced and an estimate of further reductions based on the government’s business plans that have yet to be confirmed.

Tuition won’t jump this year, but the province’s decision to lift the tuition freeze that has been in place for the past five years mean the university can raise fees for students. MacEwan will take a “balanced approach” to raising or introducing new fees, the statement said.

Advanced Education is cutting the overall grant program by five per cent, and MacEwan is facing a 7.9 per cent cut, retroactive to April 1, 2019. Advanced Education said it based the reductions on each institution’s annual operating surplus and its ability to sustain the cuts.

The 7.9 per cent reduction accounts for $9.1 million, but the school says it’s also factoring in a projected $1.7 million loss still to come. That’s based on the government’s fiscal year differing from MacEwan’s, as well as the loss of a $3 million infrastructure grant and a $1.4 million tuition freeze offset that it had accounted for but will now not receive.

MacEwan said the province has indicated it will release more information about funding for post-secondary schools in January 2020.

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