The value of the U15

You may have heard the term “U15” used at the university, and you may wonder what it means and why is it something we want to be a part of.

The U15 is a group of 15 of Canada’s top research intensive universities – a prestigious group we were invited to join in 2011.The members of the U15 count:

  • 47% of all university students in Canada
  • 71% of full-time doctoral students in Canada
  • $5.3 billion in annual research income
  • 80% of all competitively allocated research funding in Canada
  • 80% of Canadian university patents and start-ups

So what does this mean and why is it important to us?

First, being a part of the U15 helps others see us for who we are; it shines a light on the accomplishments of our faculty and students. And second, it helps us learn from and collaborate with our peers. U15 membership makes a difference both in perceptions and in practical actions and collaborations. Continue reading

Multi-Year Forecast: Importance and Accuracy

There continue to be comments and criticism expressed to us about the accuracy of our multi-year forecast – more specifically, that we have inflated our deficit projections and that the budget adjustments we are making are not needed.

The definition of “forecast” according to the Webster dictionary is “to calculate or predict some future event or condition usually as a result of study and analysis of available pertinent data.” This analysis of data involves looking at the recent past, comparators and other key indicators (or drivers) to project future results. Our multi-year forecast is based more specifically on an organizational planning definition for forecast and is a strategic tool that helps the university link its integrated plan with its expenditures. The importance of a multi-year forecast must be considered based on the university’s multi-year teaching and research commitments. For example, a multi-year forecast supports the multi-year nature of the commitment of expenditures required for students to complete their programs. In addition, changes within much of the instructional and research activity supported by the operating budget require significant long-term investment costs to develop and substantial transition costs to adapt, resulting in an increasing importance for universities to prepare multi-year forecasts directly associated with multi-year plans.

We are often asked about the projections made in the 2012-16 multi-year budget framework (MYBF), and more specifically why, at that time, we projected what some are saying were unrealistic annual increases to the provincial operating grant. Continue reading