Graham Carr: ‘We have a clear path to rebalancing the budget while advancing our strategic priorities’
Concordia has managed the past two years responsibly and remarkably successfully considering the difficult challenges we faced. This is largely thanks to the inspired creativity, genuine dedication and sheer hard work of our faculty, students and staff, as well as the steadfast support of our Board of Governors.
Still, there’s no getting around the fact that the financial burden created by the COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with global uncertainty caused by the unspeakable war in Ukraine, economic volatility, supply-chain disruptions, and unpredictability regarding student choice and mobility in higher education will continue to be felt in the coming years.
In 2020-21 we reported a significant deficit because of the sudden impact of COVID. This past year, 2021-22, we were able to balance the budget and report a slight surplus of $2 million due to a one-time $23 million grant from the Government of Quebec for outstanding salary adjustments and to offset COVID-19 costs.
Realistically, for 2022-23, we are forecasting another shortfall linked to the medium-term consequences of the pandemic. Despite this, the university’s fiscal outlook remains solid, and we have a clear path to rebalancing the budget while advancing our strategic priorities.
Yesterday, the Board of Governors approved our 2022-23 budget. It projects a deficit of $15 million based on anticipated revenues of $586.5 million against anticipated expenses of $601.5 million.
Our objective, by 2025-26, is to return to the balanced budget position we had achieved immediately prior to the pandemic. As we have done in previous periods of financial challenge, we will continue to invest in key initiatives that sustain and accelerate Concordia’s positive momentum and increasing global reputation for student success, academic excellence and research achievement.
It’s also clear that the changing circumstances we’ve experienced since spring 2020 will require us to identify new ways of working, partnering, teaching and learning to effectively reach our goals.
Naturally, there is uncertainty ahead due both to global conditions and aspects of the public policy landscape in Quebec. In 2021-22, we experienced a drop in student enrolment for the first time in more than a decade, largely because fewer students are graduating from CEGEPs but also because of pressures around international student travel, particularly as they affected professional master’s programs.
We’re also observing recent shifts in the government funding model, with more money being targeted to government priorities via special envelopes, one-time investments and support for universities in the regions, as well as the introduction of new measures affecting anglophone CEGEPs.
We need to be mindful of these global and local factors and maintain our ability to be flexible and adapt.
2022-23 and beyond
True to our institutional culture, our budgetary approach is to be ambitious yet responsible, resourceful yet aware of the realities we face.
We plan to steadily reduce our yearly deficit and return to a balanced budget beginning in 2025-26. We will achieve this objective through a combination of prudent management of expenses and additional growth and diversification of revenues.
Our strategy uses integrated planning to better align our budget allocations with the strategic goals and objectives to support the university’s academic and research mission.
As in the past, the Board of Governors through its Finance Committee will provide us with key support, guidance and assistance throughout our journey. With their support, and with the talent and know-how of our Concordia family, we are confident the university can reach a balanced budget to begin the fiscal year 2025-26.
I thank the Board of Governors for their strong support in our approach, thereby facilitating our success. And, as always, I take great pride in our Concordia faculty, staff, students and entire community and thank you for allowing us to aim higher.
President and Vice-Chancellor