TRU pauses some capital projects, defers some hires as it waits on international cap details

Partial hiring freeze at TRU

Thompson Rivers University has implemented interim fiscal measures in the wake of recently announced federal international student permit caps — including a partial hiring freeze and a pause on big-money campus capital projects.

But the sky is not falling on McGill Road. Data from the university shows an $18-million surplus forecast for the academic year, which is about $12 million over initial budgeting estimates.

In a report going to the university’s board of governors later this week, TRU President Brett Fairbairn said it is prudent to balance strategic priorities while “protecting the university."

"With this in mind, the provost and the vice-president of administration and finance have briefed TRU leaders about interim measures for financial planning, including pausing some capital projects and deferring some vacancy hires," the report reads.

The university's third quarter financial report states there are around 80 vacancies at the university due to attrition and some failed and delayed hires.

This marks a decrease from the beginning of the academic year, which saw 94 vacant positions according to the university’ first quarter financial forecast in September.

Fairbairn’s report says as a result of these unfilled vacancies and strong enrolment, the university is forecasting to end the year with an $18 million surplus, about $12 million over budget.

International tuition is $13.8 million above budget this quarter, due to the university surpassing its enrolment target for international on-campus students by over 600. International students at TRU pay approximately $19,000 in first-year tuition, compared to $4,487 for domestic students.

“Bearing in mind that much is still unknown about the impact of international student changes on future budgets, including the possibility in the short-term for deficit budgets, the senior executive team has recommended the surplus be left untouched until the future is better understood,” Fairbairn’s report said.

The federal government announced last month that there will be a two-year cap on International student admissions, marking a 35 per cent decrease of the number of permits issued last year.

The provincial government will have until the end of March to decide how the limited number of permits will be allocated across the province.

The report states TRU executives are discussing how to adapt to potential changes to international programming and student demographics, including how to sustain and grow future enrolment under new circumstances.

“TRU has continued to monitor the situation and is engaged in regular conversations with universities and the government to understand what this may mean for us,” Fairbairn said in the report.

“While TRU has a strong history in international education, a stellar reputation, and attracts many international students each year, we don’t yet know how the federal changes will affect students' choices about their studies.”

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