MEMO: Very Challenging Revenue Loss at the University of Belize as a Result of the COVID-19 Pandemic – Your thoughts on how we go forward for Academic Year 2020-21


TO: All Faculty and Staff
FROM: The President
DATE: 11th June, 2020
SUBJECT: Very Challenging Revenue Loss at the University of Belize as a Result of the COVID-19 Pandemic – Your thoughts on how we go forward for Academic Year 2020-21

Dear Colleagues,

The University of Belize has recently been informed that its Government (GOB) subvention has been reduced from $11 million to $8.34 million. This represents a cut in the subvention of 24.2%. This news comes in the wake of a Memo from the Financial Secretary at the Ministry of Finance dated 19th May, 2020 where he noted “As we continue to witness the devastating effect on our revenue collections, we are faced with the need to further curtail recurrent expenditure for the financial year 2020-21.” The University has therefore been mandated to share in this national budgetary crisis and therefore, we must respond so as to be able to manage and operationalize our University within this challenging time as soon as possible and when approved by the Board.

Coupled with this loss in government subvention, the University of Belize is preparing for a 25% loss in income from student tuition and fees as a result of firstly, reduced enrolment for academic year 2020-21. We are all aware of the devastating effect of COVID-19 on the loss of jobs and income in households and hence the inability of some potentially new and returning students to fund their education at the University. In the same circumstances, the ability of donors to fund scholarships at the same level of the pre-COVID period is now very doubtful. We are anticipating a loss of income from this source at $3.5 million for 2020-21.

The University is very cognizant of the cost of education to our student population and in particular at this time. It is therefore proposed that the stepwise tuition increase for the academic year 2020-21 as was approved by the Board nearly two years ago, will be held in abeyance.

Further, we are proposing to also reduce student fees by 25%. We are hoping that in anticipation of these measures, that some of our students may find the ways and means to continue their studies at UB. Loss of income from these actions is of the order of $1 million or 10% of our student tuition and fee income for the year.

In summary therefore, UB is preparing for a significant loss in income of $7.16 million or 27.3% of our 2019-20 recurrent budget – one where we proposed to spend $20.7 million on Personal Emoluments and $5.5 million on other costs, for a total of $26.2 million.

Let me conclude by saying that what I am presenting is what is in front of us today. The world, the Caribbean, including Belize, all of us are faced with difficult economic circumstances. There is contraction of economies across the board and many businesses and institutions are struggling to survive. It may even get worse as the months go by before it gets any better. There is no choice at the University of Belize, as with other universities across the globe including the Caribbean, but to reduce our expenditure very significantly. I also want to bring to your attention that the University of Belize will enter into a “new normal” when we open our doors in August 2020. We cannot assume that we can continue to do things the same way.

Under these circumstances, I would appreciate hearing your thoughts on this matter of how we can close this financial gap by completing the attached questionnaire, as this will inform the direction that must be approved by our Board of Trustees. We are all in this together.

I look forward to receiving your response by 8:00 am on Monday, 15th June, 2020 which will be treated in the strictest confidence.

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