15th July, 2020
For Immediate Release
A Statement by the University of Belize on Measures to be Implemented In 2020-21 so as to Mitigate Our Losses In Revenue – To Be Approved By The Board Of Trustees
The President of the University of Belize addressed all of his constituents on 13th July, 2020 on the matter of the cut in GOB’s subvention, projected loss of tuition and fee income and their negative impacts on the University.
He emphasized that the matter of funding and financing of the University of Belize were always the “big elephant in the room”. He noted that with COVID-19 – the University of Belize has been brought under significant financial pressure. We have to treat with the financial cuts envisaged, that is, a reduction in subvention of $2.66 million per annum, projected loss in student numbers of 25% and its financial impact of $3.5 million, as well as the provision which we have made to freeze tuition increases and reduce fees by 25% so as to support our students and their parents and this is estimated to cost $1 million in the financial year. We are therefore projecting at this time, a loss of $7.16 million for the year 2020-21. But the data in front of us is even more stark with what we are seeing today in terms of the new academic year 2020-21 and student projections. And so while we are anticipating a 33% loss in our cash inflows, the prospects with the deflated state of the economy around us, are even dimmer. All our Caribbean universities are facing this same financial dilemma.
The President has noted that on a monthly basis we are paying $1.3 million to support our payroll for our 405 employees. While our government subvention has been reduced from normally $916,667 per month to $650,000 per month starting in June 2020, that the University has paid all salaries and benefits for the months of March, April, May, June and July, despite our cash flows indicating that the University is hemorrhaging. In responding to this crisis, the President had to consider two major philosophical options – (i) All faculty, staff and administrators sharing proportionately in this financial burden (ii) Dislocating a good number of our employees and they carry the burden near singularly. The President chose the first option as he stood by his statement, “livelihoods matter”. The measures put before the Board of Trustees on 14th July, 2020 are as follows:
- A salary reduction across the board and for ALL employees with a tiered reduction beginning at 25% at the top most band and reducing to 5% at the lowest band. The bands are as follows:
This salary reduction becomes effective 1st August, 2020 and over the period of the financial year 2020-21.
- Increments across the board for all employees will be frozen for the 2020-21 financial year, with the proviso that the quantum of the forgone annual salary increment for those who are or will be eligible will be included in the calculation for pensionable benefits, either at retirement or at the time of resignation/early departure from the University.
- That a Voluntary Separation Program will be introduced with immediate effect.
- That in the next 6 months, the following offices will be reorganized to bring much greater efficiency to our core functions and further reductions where they can be realized.
- The divisions of Security, Physical Plant, UB Central Farm, Calabash Caye, the ERI, Records, the Office of Student Affairs, Library, the Offices of HR and Finance, the Vice President’s Office and the President’s Office, the ODL and ICT Offices, the Regional Language Center. There could be consolidation in some of these Offices. This rationalization will take effect after consultation with the relevant Heads and approval by the Board of Trustees.
- On the academic side, it is similarly expected that there will be some rationalization of the academic support that we currently have.
- It is expected that all faculty will teach the equivalent of 5 courses as their normal load for the semester.
- That the total cost of adjunct contracts will be reduced by 75%.
- That all non-PE expenses will be reduced by 25% and hence conservation becomes paramount.
- That where there are qualified and trained administrators available in the UB system, they will be asked to teach at least one course per semester as a matter of providing voluntary service to the University, with equivalent time-off as approved.
- Where approved by the Senior Management of the University, faculty and staff may still be able to work some time from home using technology and as needed or recommended.
- For approved full-time faculty and senior administrative staff, an allowance of $500.00 per year will be provided as a technology grant so as to support their access to internet, etc.
- Our budget for 2020-2021, will make provisions for approved full-time Faculty and Administrators to obtain an interest free loan, repayable over 3 years to purchase a laptop – UB’s Laptop Purchase Program.
The President concluded his presentation by noting that the “UB ship is leaking” and we can let it take in the water and let it go down or we can steadily bail it out to stay afloat for a while, or we can plug the leak so it can sail once more to safe shores. The President appealed to all to make the personal sacrifice and for us to work together to plug this leakage for the benefit of our University and Belizean students. He noted we can sail with our crew or we can sail with a much reduced crew. His hope was that we can do the former as livelihoods matter to him and that he has done his best through deliberate consultation and analysis to ensure that the financial burden is shared by all and in a proportional manner, while recognizing livelihoods matter. These recommendations are before the Board of Trustees of the University of Belize for consideration and approval. The Chairman of the Board, Mr. G.A. Harrison Pilgrim remarked “we have to come together to make the sacrifices that are required to save our University as the University is hemorrhaging”.
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