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Cape Breton University looks to cut costs amid global pandemic

CBU president David Dingwall. NANCY KING/CAPE BRETON POST
CBU president David Dingwall. NANCY KING/CAPE BRETON POST
SYDNEY, N.S. —

Cape Breton University will look to approve a deficit budget as the institution faces significant financial impacts as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

David Dingwall, president and vice-chancellor, said CBU’s board of governors will be asked to approve a deficit budget for 2020-21 when it meets later this month. The university recalibrates its budget on a monthly basis, a practice that has been in place since March.

“This monthly review will ensure that the 2020-21 financial plan reflects the most recent information available and assists with ensuring the long-term stability of our institution,” Dingwall said in a news release.

To date, CBU has cancelled all work-related travel, terminated close to 60 term employees, reduced operational expenditures by nearly $2 million, and continues to deploy several human resource strategies, including no 2020 monetary increase for non-union employees, a wage rollback program of up to 10 per cent for certain non-union employees and senior administration, and a temporary layoff program for close to 40 non-faculty unionized and non-unionized staff.

CBU is continuing to meet with union groups to discuss additional ways that they may be able to assist the university cope with the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.

CBU will increase its tuition and fees for the 2020-21 academic year by three per cent or $24 per course. However, the campus activity fee, all lab fees and the online learning fee will be waived for its online fall semester at a cost of $540,000 to the university.

“CBU’s priorities for the upcoming academic year are focused on the health and safety of the campus community, an unwavering commitment to academic excellence, preparing students, faculty and staff for an online learning environment, and supporting student financial aid,” said Dingwall. “Tuition and fees help support these commitments and allow CBU to deliver the academic infrastructure and expertise students deserve. This was true before COVID-19 and more apparent today.”

In May, CBU, which has nearly 5,500 students from more than 40 countries, was able to assist 393 students with a total of $203,000 in urgent financial support through the Perseverance: Student Relief Fund. The institution also made its largest investment in student financial aid, awarding $2.2 million in entrance scholarships and bursaries for new students and in-course scholarships and bursaries for current students.

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