The UTSC Campus Council met on March 9 to discuss changes to provincial COVID-19 policies and how they will affect the university. University administrators also explained the operating budget for the 2022-23 academic year and reviewed changes to the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP).
Vice-Principal Academic and Dean William Gough confirmed that around 80% of UTSC classes have returned to in-person learning. However, some courses remain online either due to instructor health issues or because the course started in September as an online offering.
Gough added that the university would work to offer more classes in the summer. This is intended to ease the burden on students who, for various reasons, were unable to attend in-person classes.
UTSC Chief Executive Andrew Arifuzzaman commented on Ontario’s recent announcement lifting of COVID-19 security measures as they apply to campus activities.
“The university is directed, in its actions, like all other post-secondary institutions in Ontario, by order of the Chief Medical Officers of Health,” Arifuzzaman said. This means that even though the provincial government announces province-wide changes, the university has yet to receive specific direction from the Chief Medical Officers of Health.
The university will update its policy as it receives new information, but Arifuzzaman suggested masks “will be in place for the remainder of this term.”
Arifuzzaman added that there have been no outbreaks on campus since the return to in-person learning, although there have been “occasional cases of Omicron in residence.”
In her updates, Sheila John, Associate Dean of Wellness, Recreation and Sport, spoke about UCheck compliance. Upon returning to campus, students may be prompted by a UCheck Ambassador to display a green screen – indicating that a student is cleared to come to campus. John said: “Over the past week our green screen staff have indicated [that] over 94% of students remember completing their daily screening, with 100% of those screens being green screens. »
Finally, sports and recreational activities as well as other associative activities have resumed on campus. In addition, 700 students now live in residence.
Distribution of the university budget
Cheryl Regehr, vice president and provost of the university, presented a summary of the budget. “This year, we are forecasting a total revenue and expenditure budget of…$3.23 billion, an increase of $110 million. [in revenue] compared to last year.
Tuition and fees make up 68% of university revenue, and operating grants make up another 20%. Fifty-eight percent of the budget will be allocated to faculty and staff compensation, while 10 percent will be allocated to student aid.
OSAP and UTAPS plans
Jeff Lennon, Acting Assistant Vice President, Planning and Budget, also provided a breakdown of the institutional budget. His presentation included updates on Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) grants and how the university plans to deal with these changes.
“Students from families with income over $140,000 [are] is no longer eligible for non-repayable grants and each student will receive…at least 10% specifically of their OSAP funding in the form of repayable loans,” Lennon explained. “As a result of these changes, we have seen a decline in the number and proportion of our students receiving OSAP support.
While 64% of undergraduate students received OSAP funding in the 2018-19 academic year, only 57% received OSAP funding this year.
Lennon explained that the university generally “supplements” OSAP support with its own financial aid from the University of Toronto (UTAPS) scholarship program.
Yet, the “financial need assessment” under the UTAPS scholarship program is largely determined by the assessment criteria established by OSAP. As such, Lennon said the university is reviewing the UTAPS program to “[make] more responsive to student financial needs and less dependent on OSAP assessments.
The board also approved changes to the Student Experience and Wellness Fee and Mandatory Non-Academic Incidental Fees for UTSC Student Societies, which had been presented at the UTSC Campus Affairs Committee meeting in February.