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Update on the fiscal year 2024-25 budget

Read a message from Concordia President Graham Carr
May 21, 2024
By Graham Carr

A modern glass building with "Concordia" written on one side. The building has a mix of dark and transparent windows, and there are trees in the foreground.

Dear Concordians,

On May 16, the Board of Governors approved Concordia’s budget for fiscal year 2024-25. With next year’s financial plan in place, I’m writing to provide an update on the difficult situation we’re in.

As you know, Concordia has been in a deficit position since emerging from the pandemic, due to dropping enrolments, inflation and the increasing salary and service costs required to run the university. Unfortunately, we can also now confirm that the Government of Quebec’s changes to tuition fees for out-of-province Canadian and international students, as well as its modifications to the formula used to distribute funding to universities, will exacerbate our deficit challenge.

First, as predicted, the number of students applying to and registering at Concordia from outside Quebec has dropped considerably.

Second, without consultation, the Quebec government has decided to redistribute significant sums of funding in the budget of the Ministère de l’Enseignement supérieur (MES) to the benefit of francophone universities and at a cost to Concordia.

Specifically, the government will redistribute around $400 million in funds clawed back from universities and student fees across the network, with $76 million, or 19 per cent of that total, taken from Concordia. Although we will receive some government grants for deregulated international students, Concordia is the university most hurt by the government’s policies. We are losing four per cent of our government funding while subsidizing the francophone universities to the tune of tens of millions of dollars.

It was the injustice of the government’s approach to funding anglophone universities that led us in February to launch the legal challenge in defence of Concordia. Inevitably, it will take time for the lawsuit to make its way through the courts. Meanwhile, we have no choice but to confront our realities, control our deficit and create the conditions to chart a new course for success.

According to our budget recovery plan approved by the Board and MES, Concordia must reduce our deficit to $34.5 million by the end of fiscal year 2024-25. To grasp the magnitude of the challenge, we need to understand that, given the factors previously mentioned, our initial deficit exposure this fiscal year is $78.9 million.

To bridge the gap, it will be incumbent on all sectors to once again reduce expenses and find new ways to increase revenues. A separate message from the provost and the chief financial officer outlines the measures that will be applied.

While we will need to continue our budget reduction efforts in fiscal year 2025-26 and beyond, we are hopeful that this year can mark the point when we started to fully tackle our financial challenges.

I know we’re all exhausted and frustrated by the endless series of cuts and compressions. But the reality is that the government isn’t working to help us. It’s therefore up to us to break the deficit cycle and move forward.

In the medium-to-long term, we need to identify what a truly sustainable future looks like for our university. This process has begun both within individual units and on the institutional level. Our goal is to develop new strategies and practices that can better withstand the vagaries of Quebec politics and international recruitment trends.

We will overcome the current challenges. Concordia’s unique position in Quebec is as strong and persuasive as ever. We offer innovative programs, conduct high-impact research and are leaders in the arts, culture and innovation. Montreal is still one of the world’s great university cities. Our international rankings continue to climb because the rest of the world sees we are a university on the move. Just last week Times Higher Education ranked us for the first time among the top 100 young universities in the world.

Thank you for your extraordinary efforts to help us surmount our budget challenges. I know this is not an easy time, but there’s far too much that’s good, unique and enduring about Concordia to be discouraged.

Other members of the leadership team and I will host conversations about the budget with unions, managers and the community in the coming weeks, and we look forward to hearing your ideas.

As we prepare to celebrate our 50th anniversary, I think we can all acknowledge that, at various moments in its history, our university has had to confront its share of tribulations. But Concordians have always prevailed against great odds, and we will do so once more. We have a responsibility to build an even brighter future.

Graham Carr
President and Vice-Chancellor

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