From the Boardroom: Governors pass 2024/25 budget, hear Student Affordability Task Force update

UBC’s Board of Governors met in the Robert H. Lee Alumni Centre at UBC Vancouver on Wednesday to discuss the progress of the Student Affordability Task Force recommendations and approve UBC’s 2024/25 budget.

Here’s what you might’ve missed.

Student affordability updates

UBC VP Students Ainsley Carry gave an update on the Student Affordability Task Force (SATF) recommendations.

In March 2022, the SATF — a group of UBC administrators and students including student governor Eshana Bhangu — first presented draft recommendations to the Board of Governors (BoG).

The SATF’s first recommendation is to establish a multi-year tuition framework. Associate Vice-President, Enrolment Services and Registrar Rella Ng said UBC has developed a draft proposal and proposed models for further review and financial modeling. Ng said UBC has met with post-secondary institutions that currently offer a multi-year tuition framework.

On recommendation five, to address cost of living challenges, Carry said UBC has allocated around $2.4 million in one-time funding, given in installments of $800,000 per year, to food insecurity on campus since 2022. He said UBC has also committed to allocate $800,000 in funding to food insecurity for the next three years.

Carry also said UBC Child Care Services offers $10-a-day rates, UBC housing remains 13–15 per cent under market rate and Campus Vision 2050 commits to building 3,300 student beds on UBC’s Vancouver campus in the next 10 years.

Student advocates, like student governors Bhangu and Kareem Hassib and AMS executives, have criticized UBC’s 3,300 number, saying it is not enough.

Carry said dedicated task forces for international students and graduate students are in the works since “the 10 recommendations were largely focused on undergraduate student needs.”

UBC’s 2024/25 budget

The finance committee recommended the Board approve the 2024/25 budget.

Frank Laezza, UBC’s VP finance and operations, said UBC’s projected operating budget is $2.7 billion, made up of provincial grants, tuition, investment income, sale revenue and land development returns. He said UBC projected $1.1 billion of non-operating funds, which are tied to specific usages.

Laezza also said UBC is forecasting a $94 million surplus, predominantly from the non-operating budget. This surplus includes $19 million in the endowment fund, $51 million in net investments and $22 million in research and other funds.

The operating budget is balanced, said Laezza.

“While the operating budget is anticipated to be balanced at the organizational level, it is important to recognize the growing cost pressures faced by faculties and administrative units,” read the budget document. “The university is continuing to develop and expand new revenue sources while exploring operational efficiencies to fortify UBC’s financial sustainability.”

Bhangu commended the “interest of transparency” in budget discussion. She also said the budget book was “significantly more digestible than it has been in previous years.”

When it comes to food insecurity, Hassib said there needs to be an increased emphasis on funds toward establishing campus food security.

“We can boast about being one of the greatest universities in the world, but one of the biggest barriers to success is something as basic as adequate nutrition,” said Hassib. “I think we need to take a hard look at our priorities.”

The budget passed unanimously.