By Zachary Flynn
NAIT is still on track to balance its budget once students return to campus, despite reduced provincial funding, said Jeff Dumont, NAIT’s vice-president administration and chief financial officer.
The institution received a 6.3 per cent reduction in funding, a bigger reduction than the 5.6 per cent that was expected.
“It’s always a risk because provincial budget or provincial funding is never guaranteed until you get your funding envelope,” said Dumont.
“But our belief is, with what we understand the provincial funding to be, we have set the stage for us to come back into balance once the impacts of COVID are gone.”
Students received an email in February informing them of a seven per cent increase to their tuition rates, which falls in line with the tuition increases announced in 2019.
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Along with the tuition increase, it was also announced that the tuition cap, which previously restricted how much money NAIT could charge per semester for tuition, was removed.
Dumont said that NAIT has been contemplating this decision for some time and that it’s more about equity than money.
“We were not using the lens of using it to generate any extra revenue. In fact, it’s not revenue-generating for NAIT. It’s an equitable way to make sure that students when they’re coming in part-time or full-time, pay the same rate,” said Dumont.
NAIT has capped the tuition increase on full-time students to 10 per cent for the 2021-22 academic year.
As Dumont looks ahead to balancing NAIT’s budget for the first time in five years, he said one of the biggest drivers will be on-campus activity and the revenue that it brings.
“The impact [of COVID] on [NAIT’s] expenses is much less than what it is on our revenues because a lot of the things that were on campus: selling food, parking, and other types of ancillary types of revenue. Those all have plummeted,” he said.
The pandemic also had an impact on the total number and types of students enrolled.
NAIT reported a 23 per cent decrease in new international admissions in fall 2020 compared to the year prior. There was also a significant decrease in recent international admits due to study permit processing delays, travel restrictions, and deferral requests amidst COVID-19.
While international numbers have dropped, Apprenticeship and Industry Training (AIT) numbers have increased to 6868 students from 4963 students in the 2019/20 academic year. NAIT estimates the 2020/21 numbers to grow to approximately 7250 once May and June’s intakes are factored in.