Operating Budget Deficit Updates

Queen's is working to address a significant structural deficit and return the university to a balanced operating budget by 2025/26. The university began acting on its current fiscal year deficit in the spring of 2023 by implementing a hiring freeze and imposing a reduction on Faculty and Shared Services budgets. These efforts have reduced the projected deficit to $48 million from initial projections of $62 million.

Our deficit situation is rooted in the 10 per cent tuition cut and subsequent tuition freeze for Ontario students implemented by the provincial government in 2019, which remains in place. The cumulative effect of these cuts combined with declines in international student enrolment and increasing inflationary pressures has led us to a situation where we now face a structural deficit.

The university has thus far relied on its financial reserves to cover its operating deficits, but that path is not sustainable. Because the deficit is structural, one-time funding will not solve our challenges. Addressing this structural deficit requires significant efforts from faculties and departments across the university.

We are confident that ongoing work will return us to a balanced budget and ensure Queen's is well positioned for a sustainable long-term future that will enable us to re-invest in our academic mission focused on teaching and research excellence.

As Principal and Vice Chancellor Patrick Deane reported in his recent statement regarding the Queen’s budget, Queen’s is a proud institution with a long history and an enviable reputation. We are in a strong financial position overall and are not at risk of closing. 

General information and FAQs regarding the operating budget deficit are posted on the Office of the Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic) website.

FAS Operating Budget

The Faculty leadership team has been working on budget development over the past six months with our Budget Advisory Committee, which is composed of several Department Heads. The Committee has met regularly, and through collaboration recommendations have been identified to provide pathways for revenue generation and cost savings that will assist us in our decision-making to deliver a balanced budget for 2025-26.

The Committee shared these recommendations and sought feedback from all Department Heads and Managers, and they were accepted by the Dean and communicated to the academic units in November 2023.

At the recent Senate meeting on February 1, 2024, Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic) Matthew Evans announced a one-year extension for the Faculty of Arts and Science to address its structural deficit.

Over the next year we will continue to work on the curriculum revisioning and renewal process with any changes to be implemented in the 2025-2026 academic year. This will include reducing the number of credits required for majors, minors, and specializations. For many low-enrolment courses, this will involve shifting to a course structure that allows for enrolment of ten students or above. Undergraduate classes with less than 10 students will continue to be offered in 2024-25.

Curriculum Revisioning and Renewal

The budget pathways recommended by the Budget Advisory Committee included curriculum revisioning and renewal, which is a normal, ongoing process that is essential to maintaining program quality. Reducing the number of undergraduate courses being offered to classes of less than 10 students is a part of this process, which will save on costs and therefore assist FAS in meeting our budget targets for 2024-25 and 2025-26 and delivering a balanced budget.

The quality of our programs and program learning outcomes will not change and there will be no impact on student progression through degree plans as a result of this curriculum revisioning and renewal process.

Curriculum revisioning and renewal also benchmarks us against our peers and will bring FAS in line with the practice of other faculties at Queen's and other members of the U6 Group of Research Universities (the Ontario universities in the U15 Group of Research Universities) who do not offer undergraduate classes to less than 10 students . This will lead to curriculum that better aligns with what students are looking for in post-secondary education, while being sustainable.

Arts and Science Online

FAS carefully reviewed its academic program offerings through Arts and Science Online (ASO) and decided to no longer admit new distance students to its fully online degree and certificate programs, as of January 2024. Those currently enrolled in the programs were informed that they would be able to complete their ASO degree or certificate. Distance students taking courses were informed that they could continue to take courses, but that the pathway to admission into an online degree program or certificate via ASO was no longer available to them. This decision was taken to ensure that resources, constrained under the university’s current budget deficit challenges, are used as efficiently as possible for faculty and students.

Going Forward

Currently, FAS academic units are in the process of developing their budgets and timetables for 2024-25 and we will engage with our Faculty community as plans to address our operating budget deficit progress. Our priority remains delivering on our academic and research mission and supporting the student experience, which are intertwined and remain at the forefront of our decision-making.

For advice on planning undergraduate studies, please reach out to our Academic Advising team.

Updates will be provided as they are available. While this work is underway, the following FAQs may be helpful.