Message from Dan Patterson: NC achieves balanced budget for 2014-2015

Dan PattersonAs we enter the second year of our 2013 – 2016 Strategic Plan, we’re making great strides toward our key strategic priorities of providing unparalleled student experience and satisfaction; leading in applied research and innovation; and achieving operational excellence.

At its meeting last Thursday, our Board of Governors approved a balanced budget for 2014-2015 that ensures that we will pursue these strategic objectives from a solid financial position. Specifically, this year’s business plan supports the 2014-2015 goals and metrics as set out in our Strategic Plan, directly linked to our key strategic priorities. Niagara College’s strategic plan has been built on a sound understanding of the needs of our region and our students, differentiating our program mix from many others.

The balanced budget for 2014-2015 builds on our sound and prudent financial management, and focuses on maintaining program quality, and a range of programs that support economic development; continuous improvement in program and service delivery with a focus on student success and customer service; increasing levels of research and innovation to support economic development; and a revenue diversification strategy that includes continued growth in internationally-sourced revenue.

As in previous years, our collective ability to be innovative and resourceful while continuing to meet the needs and expectations of our students is key to meeting our financial goals.

Highlights of the 2014-2015 budget include:

  • Total revenue of $150 million versus expenditures of $150 million, resulting in a balanced budget;
  • A projected enrolment increase of 1.8 percent, with 1.4 percent domestic and 3.6 percent international growth;
  • The development of new programs in Supply Chain and Logistics; Industrial Automation and Gerontology, as well as the creation of new eLearning opportunities;
  • The continued pursuit of partnerships and articulations that will expand learning pathways for students;
  • The first year of a contract to operate a campus in Taif, Saudi Arabia, which expands our program delivery in that country from 45 students per year to more than 400 students;
  • Support for a major capital expansion that is currently in the final planning stages. This project, the details of which will be announced later this spring, will include new facilities and equipment designed to enhance academic delivery, student services and the overall student experience. It will also include the construction of the Industry Innovation Center at Niagara to support expanded applied research opportunities, for which the Ontario Government announced support in the fall Economic Statement.

The balanced budget also provides a solid financial platform for Transform NC, our integrated planning project that began in early 2014. This initiative will play a critical role in our efforts for continuous improvement and our ability to adapt, succeed and grow in a changing postsecondary landscape.

Significant time and energy were dedicated to achieving a balanced budget and I want to thank everyone who contributed to it. However, our work is not complete. We must recognize that our province continues to face a large deficit, a challenging economy with projected higher utility costs and the possibility of an early provincial election. Just five years ago, we received 51% of our total revenues from the provincial government; today, it is 40% with the likelihood of it continuing to decrease annually. This uncertainty means that we must continue to work towards attracting and retaining more students and look to revenue diversification, be innovative and find new ways to effectively meet the needs of students.

I know that many of you have creative thoughts on how to ensure Niagara College prospers in the face of political and financial uncertainty — I heard some great ideas raised at the Day of Reflection tables.

I encourage you to review the 2014-2015 Business Plan, which is available online. If you have questions regarding the Business Plan, please contact your respective vice president or me directly at dpatterson@niagaracollege.ca.

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