The University of British Columbia (UBC) Board of Governors has approved UBC’s 2022/2023 budget. The new budget sets spending priorities for the year ahead to advance the university’s key strategic priorities while supporting students, faculty, and staff in their collective pursuit of excellence in learning, teaching, and research.
Greater than anticipated enrolment, significant efforts to reduce expenditures, and strong government support have enabled UBC to manage the continuing financial impact of COVID-19. While the 2022/23 day-to-day operating budget projects a $7 million deficit, the total consolidated budget — which includes capital spending for expenditures such as building projects, roads, and other infrastructure, and restricted income earned from land development proceeds, research, and endowments — is projected to result in a $100 million surplus. UBC’s financial health remains strong and external credit rating agency Moody’s Investors Services recently reaffirmed UBC with an Aa1 rating.
This allows UBC to continue to move forward, directing limited resources to key areas, including the advancement of the academic mission; expansion of academic and non-academic support for students to enable their success in and out of classrooms; supporting the implementation of the Climate Action Plan and the Climate Emergency Task Force recommendations; advancing the commitments of the Indigenous Strategic Plan; and furthering Anti-Racism and Inclusive Excellence initiatives.
UBC Vancouver plans to invest an additional $3.3 million of ongoing funding to further enhance student mental health resources and expand the Jumpstart program. UBC Okanagan will also invest $2.4 million to enhance the student experience, including admissions, awards, and student employment and wellness. Additionally, $825,000 has been earmarked to kickstart the recommendations from the Student Affordability Task Force Report, which was also approved by the Board of Governors in March.
“Supporting an outstanding learning environment remains our overall priority,” says Andrew Szeri, provost and vice-president academic, UBC Vancouver. “Across the university, investments in teaching and the student experience, as well as mental health, wellness supports, and other resources will help further academic excellence at UBC.”
In 2022/23, UBC is advancing equity, diversity, inclusion, and anti-racism through its spending priorities, including $2.6 million to support the implementation of the Anti-Racism and Inclusive Excellence Task Force recommendations, the expansion of the Beyond Tomorrow Scholars Program, and gender equity for athletics at UBC Vancouver. The Okanagan campus will also invest a further $240,000 in the Beyond Tomorrow Scholars Program and in creating a Black Resource Centre that will support the learning and engagement of Black students, which will grow to $400,000 in upcoming years.
“Promoting equity, diversity, and inclusion is an important pre-condition for attracting and retaining the best and brightest students, faculty, and staff from around the world,” adds Szeri. “These are areas of focus that we have been investing in over time that will continue to transform UBC and its impact.”
Building on UBC’s $2.8 million of investment in 2021/22 to support the implementation of the Indigenous Strategic Plan, an additional $4.2 million will be provided for the upcoming academic year to support Indigenous initiatives; including expansion of Indigenous student, curriculum, and advising support; and significant renovation to the Laboratory of Archaeology. An additional $856,000 will support UBC Okanagan’s new Indigenous Graduate Entrance Fellowships and the continuation of the Indigenous Undergraduate Research Mentorship, as well as an Admissions Advisor for Indigenous Applicants staff position, and other projects.
“We are investing in people who are making meaningful reconciliation a priority for UBC,” says Lesley Cormack, deputy vice-chancellor and principal, UBC Okanagan. “Our collective actions will advance UBC’s vision to be a leading university globally in the implementation of Indigenous peoples’ human rights.”
UBC is a research powerhouse, with sponsored research generating over $640 million in investment through fiscal 2021/22. In the upcoming year, through its Excellence Funds, the university plans to spend $22.4 million at UBC Vancouver and $3.5 million at UBC Okanagan on initiatives that will enhance and amplify current research excellence efforts in key areas. This includes investing in the UBC Okanagan Research and Innovation Patent Fund, which will help address the growth in patent and legal costs associated with technology transfer activities, and support for the Clusters of Research Excellence program, a major initiative that fosters interdisciplinary networks of researchers addressing societal and cultural problems. In addition, recurring funding has been earmarked to continue the President’s Academic Excellence Initiative, an ambitious and comprehensive approach that will elevate UBC’s overall research impact.
In 2021, UBC unveiled two ambitious climate action plans for the Vancouver and Okanagan campuses, pledging to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and continue to play a leadership role in addressing the climate emergency.
“Achieving the ambition of our Climate Action Plans will require systemic change that will reach every corner of the institution,” explains Peter Smailes, vice-president, finance and operations. “Our financial approach will continue to support the UBC community to be engaged and participate in advancing change for a positive future.”
To support these efforts, UBC’s annual investments from the base budget total approximately $40 million, with ongoing funding for programming such as Campus as a Living Lab and Sustainability Scholars, staffing, and investments in sustainable buildings and infrastructure. In 2022/23 a further $1.4 million is being invested in UBC Vancouver’s Climate Action Plan, while UBC Okanagan is planning to invest $1.1 million from its capital fund towards its long-term district energy decarbonization plan along with an additional $100,000 to begin advancing the newly approved Climate Action and Transportation Plans, with further investments planned for future years.
Despite ongoing external uncertainty, such as COVID-19 variants, new geopolitical tensions, and inflation, the 2022/23 budget is grounded in driving forward the key priorities of the UBC strategic plan.
“As UBC and the global economy continue to recover, we are committed to being proactive in our financial strategies and conservative in our approach,” adds Smailes. “This year’s budget will enable us to advance our pursuit of excellence in research, learning, and engagement, all while supporting our students, faculty, and staff.”
To learn more, read UBC’s 2022/23 Budget report