Mohawk college preparing for ‘worst-case scenario,’ expecting $50M loss

A five-year workforce recovery plan from Mohawk College is about halfway through its mandate - and has already met two of its three major goals. Lisa Polewski / Global News

Mohawk College in Hamilton, Ont. says it’s predicting a “worst-case scenario” for the school’s finances amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement on Thursday, the school projected a $50 million loss connected to current college enrolment trends over the next academic year.

“The effects of the pandemic have had an impact on many organizations and, as a result, the college has begun the difficult but necessary work of revising its 2020/21 budget,” the school said in a press release.

“The new 2020/21 budget will go to the board of governors for approval after it is completed in mid-June.”

President and CEO Ron McKerlie told Global News that the shortfall is just a “bump in the road” and the school is expected to recover from it.

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“We will recover as the economy will recover,” said McKerlie. “You know, everybody’s going through a tough time right now as businesses shut down, everybody’s trying to figure out how to make it through. We’re no different than anyone else in that regard.”

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The school has been closed since March 17 in accordance with the province’s orders.  The school postponed spring convocation ceremonies as well, deciding to send credentials to graduates by mail in June.

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Students and faculty have been online learning to complete the semester since late March, with the spring/summer semester expected to begin on May 25 using online delivery.

Ontario’s schools, including Mohawk, will remain closed until June 1, according to the province.

McKerlie says the school remains committed to the delivery of the fall semester in some sort of scenario by mixing in-person classes with online ones.

“The good news is Mohawk College has a lot of history in providing courses online,” McKerlie said, “We were one of the early adopters and leaders of online learning. We’ve been doing it for almost a decade now.”

The president admitted the school is concerned about international student enrollment and tuitions.

“International students represent about one in four of our students at Mohawk College. Getting new international students in for the fall could be a challenge, ” McKerlie said.

The bright spot for the school may be the fact that about 80 per cent of Mohawk’s international students are likely still in the country because they have more semesters to complete, according to McKerlie.

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However, getting in new students for the fall might be a challenge.

“You know, it depends on whether we ease those restrictions, open the borders, whether embassies are working to process visas, a whole host of things. So those are outside of our control. We can only focus on what we can control this time.”


Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

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Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.”

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