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University of Belize outlines cost-saving measures for surviving COVID-19 pandemic

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Posted: Tuesday, July 7, 2020. 9:23 am CST.

By BBN Staff: The University of Belize (UB) has issued a memo sharing some of its proposed action plans to survive the challenging times of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last week, the faculty and staff union of UB sent a letter calling on the Board and administration of the institution to share details of the University’s state of ‘financial exigency’.

The union said that since all decisions will affect them, and as such wanted to know the plans being made.

“The Union must, therefore, be respected and be included in all mitigation measures that will affect its membership,” the union said.

The union called to be included in the decision making processes.

The decisions come after the Government announced that the subvention to the University was being slashed.

During the weekend, a student took to social media to share that the University had planned to increase student fees.

But, a memo from the University explained in detail that the Government (GOB) subvention has been reduced from $11 million to $8.34 million.

This represents a cut in the subvention of 24.2%.

The University says that it has therefore been mandated to share in this national budgetary crisis and therefore, it must respond so as to be able to manage and operationalize the University within this challenging time as soon as possible and when approved by the Board.

The memo from the institution says that 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 statement said.

The University said a previous proposal that the tuition increase for the academic year 2020-21 was approved by the Board nearly two years ago, and will be held in abeyance.

In addition, UB is proposing to 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,” the statement added.

The University says that it is preparing for a significant loss in income of $7.16 million or 27.3% of the 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.”

“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,” the memo stated.

The memo ends by inviting everyone to share their thoughts on how to close the financial gaps.

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