Online article paints troubled picture of Queen’s University financial situation

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Queen’s University’s financial woes continue
A recent online article published by the Queen's journal is garnering nation-wide attention after painting a very troubling picture of the financial situation being faced by queen's university. According to the student run paper bankruptcy could be in the university's future if the current financial situation is not addressed – Jan 15, 2024

A recent online article published by the Queen’s Journal is garnering nationwide attention after painting a very troubling picture of the financial situation being faced by Queen’s University.

According to the student-run paper, bankruptcy could be in the university’s future if the current financial situation is not addressed.

Queen’s University has been a major presence in the City of Kingston for almost two centuries.

According to Kingston’s Economic Development Corporation, the university is the biggest public sector employee in the city, employing more than 9,000 people.

The revelation that deep cuts could be coming to multiple programs across the school is cause for concern both off and on campus.

“As a student it kind of makes me feel a little worried about how it’s going to affect my day-to-day life,” said third-year Queen’s engineering student Adam McCuaig.

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In a statement sent to Global News Friday, a Queen’s University spokesperson said the school is “working hard to address a significant structural deficit” and plans are in place return the university to a balanced operating budget by 2025/26.

The spokesperson said work to cut the deficit started last spring and include implementing a hiring freeze and imposing a reduction on faculty and shared services budget.

Those efforts have reduced the projected deficit to $48 million from initial projections of $62 million, the spokesperson said.

“We are confident our ongoing work will return us to a balanced budget on schedule and ensure Queen’s is well positioned for a sustainable long-term future. Queen’s is not closing,” the spokesperson said in an email.

“We are working through a significant budget challenge, but we have a process to structurally balance our budget that will enable us to re-invest in our academic mission focused on teaching and research excellence.”

The spokesperson said the school’s deficit woes are rooted in the 10 per cent tuition cut and subsequent tuition freeze for Ontario students implemented by the provincial government since 2019.

“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 school’s statement reads.

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Students, like first-year arts and science student Finnegan MacAdams, first caught wind of the school’s financial woes in November when an email surfaced online outlining the pressure Queen’s was facing.

“I heard about this on Reddit and Instagram. That’s not where you get news about something that could be affecting you from your school,” said MacAdams.

Some students and staff say the situation would be better were the university more transparent.

“So that’s why the whole Queen’s community is shocked and surprised,” said Justyna Szewczyk-El Jassem, president of Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) Local 901, which represents graduate teaching assistants, teaching fellows and postdoctoral scholars at the university.

In an article by student journalists posted to the Queen’s Journal, Provost Matthew Evans is quoted as saying the university will “go under” if the situation isn’t addressed.

But PSAC Local 901’s president isn’t convinced.

“Queen’s is not going to go bankrupt anytime soon, let’s be honest, but our families? We are,” said Szewczyk-El Jassem.

It’s a sentiment shared by MacAdams.

“I don’t think that will happen because if the school was facing like bankruptcy or shutting down or anything like that, they would have either donors to come and bail them out or assets they could sell,” said MacAdams.

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The university’s financial situation will, however, continue to be a concern on campus and for the city that was built around it until more information about what kinds of cuts may be coming to which programs, if any.

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