University of Winnipeg approves 3.75% tuition hike as revenues slump from COVID-19

The University of Winnipeg will hike tuition by an average of 3.75 per cent this fall, as it grapples with sinking revenues owing to the pandemic.

The university is going ahead with a 2020-21 tuition increase that will translate into an extra $118 fee for the average student, the post-secondary institution announced Monday after its board of regents approved the upcoming $140-million budget.

The spike in tuition won’t cushion the financial blow levelled by the COVID-19 pandemic, however. The U of W expects “substantial revenue losses” most notably in international student numbers, housing, parking, printing and recreational services, the institution’s website says. 

It is forecasting $11.3 million in lower revenues than it did a few months ago, stemming from both the pandemic’s impact and the already announced 3.7 per cent cut in grant funding from the province.

The $140 million budget reflects the lower provincial grant, but the university will apply to recoup that money. After a public backlash, the province changed course and decided to give post-secondary institutions the money it was planning to slash from their budget, provided they demonstrate how the funding will align with the needs of the labour market.

The U of W will find savings this year by leaving job vacancies empty and cutting back on discretionary travel, supplies, security and campus services, the university’s website said.

‘Extraordinary budgetary situation’

“While UWinnipeg has worked strenuously for many years to restore financial stability, implications of the global pandemic have made for an extraordinary budgetary situation in 2020,” president Annette Trimbee said.

The university is embarking this fall on delivering the bulk of its educational programming online, rather than in-person, to try and stem the spread of COVID-19. 

The university last year increased tuition by 3.7 per cent for most programs. Before then, tuition jumped by 6.6 per cent in the 2018-19 academic year.