TRU forecasts $6.8M surplus thanks to international enrolment, high interest rates

TRU predicts larger surplus

Thompson Rivers University is projecting a $6.8-million first-quarter surplus thanks to increased international enrolment and high interest rates.

The projected surplus is $650,000 more than what was projected in the university’s approved 2023-24 budget.

A financial forecast going before the university’s board of governors on Friday says revenues are projected to be over $11 million higher than expected. The report was authored by the university’s associate vice-president of Finance, Yvette Laflamme.

More than $9 million of the projected revenue is coming from an increase in tuition from international enrolment. International students pay about four times the tuition rate paid by domestic students, and they make up nearly half of TRU's student body.

The second largest source of increased revenue comes from interest and investments, contract training, sports and summer camps fees, donations, lease and internal revenues, which is $2.2 million above the figure projected in the university’s budget.

“Variances are primarily due to interest on bank deposits as the Bank of Canada continues to increase their key rate,” the report reads.

Compensation and benefits expenses are also forecast to surge past the university’s projections as well, expected to be nearly $6 million higher than projected and more than $26 million higher than last year.

Part of this is due to sessional staff expenses being $2.1 million higher than budgeted, countering tenure and tenure track faculty expenses which are $1.7 million lower than expected.

Gillian Balfour, TRU’s provost and vice-president academic, spoke to the university’s surplus during TRU’s senate meeting last week.

“Surpluses cannot be used for ongoing salary costs, they must be committed to capital or equity — that is how the province requires us to govern and surplus,” Balfour said to the senate.

“We are embarking on what I hope is a new five-year budget methodology that will, for the most part, eradicate surpluses, because we need to become better at allocating resources to where they're needed.”

When the 2023-24 budget was approved, it was said a majority of the expected surplus was earmarked for capital projects.

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