VIU not at risk of closing despite $20M deficit, post-secondary minister says

VIU not at risk of closing despite $20M deficit, post-secondary minister says
Nicholas Pescod

B.C.’s post-secondary education minister says she doesn’t believe Vancouver Island University’s future is at risk as the institution faces a projected $20.2 million deficit.

The university, which has campuses in Parksville, Nanaimo, Cowichan and Powell River, attributes its financial problem to declining enrollment – which has yet to return to pre-pandemic levels – and record inflation.

On Oct. 5, VIU said it had a plan to address the deficit, which includes cutting costs, instating a hiring freeze and reducing hours.

The university has set a 10 per cent budget reduction target for its academic and non-academic units starting next year.

“I don’t think the future of the institution is at risk,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Post-Secondary Education and Future Skills.

“We’ve been working very closely with VIU, ministry staff have been working closely,” she added. “VIU has put together a mitigation strategy to address some of these financial challenges that came from a combination of increasing costs and decreasing enrollment.”

Cuts are expected to begin next year and the university says it expects to return to a balanced budget by the end of 2027.

RELATED: VIU cuts ElderCollege support after 30 years, cites ‘current financial position’

“Students are the reason that VIU exists, and I am confident the measures we are putting in place will allow VIU to continue to meet our students’ needs and deliver the high-quality education that they expect,” said Emily Huner, CFO and vice-president of administration at VIU.

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