2017/18 budget makes strategic investments while managing funding and cost pressures

June 8, 2017

McMaster’s new budget continues strategic investments advancing academic and research priorities, while managing significant pressures from rising costs, funding uncertainties and a highly competitive global research environment.

“The budget is balanced and we continue to work hard to ensure investments are made to further our academic and research priorities,” says Provost David Wilkinson. “To present a balanced budget and one that invests in strategic areas is the result of careful and prudent planning and the diligence and hard work of our budget committee, for which we are thankful.”

The budget, the result of months of consultations, meetings and presentations, was approved by the Board of Governors Thursday. Among its highlights:

  • The consolidated budget includes a structurally balanced operating fund
  • Seed funding is provided for new academic initiatives and projects, including new research centres and the appointment of new research chairs
  • Focused support for Strategic Mandate Agreement and Forward With Integrity initiatives, including investments in new faculty and faculty renewal, new teaching and learning improvements and new technology

Key Numbers

2017/18 Budgeted Revenue

$1.095 billion


Operating Fund

$649 million


Research Fund

$190 million


Ancillaries (Campus Store, Media Production Services, Housing and Conference Services, Parking etc.)

$80 million


Trust Fund and Endowment Fund Income

$79 million


Specifically externally funded funds

$33 million


2016 Credit Rating

AA (Stable) – Standard and Poors

AA (Low) – Dominion Bond Rating Service (DBRS)

Among the investments are significant expenditures to develop, open or operate new collaborative spaces, including:

  • Thode Library Makerspace – a partnership of the Faculty of Engineering and Library
  • Opening of the Gerald Hatch Centre for Engineering Experiential Learning
  • Opening and first year of operation for L.R. Wilson Hall and its interactive classrooms, student space, performance hall and community areas
  • The Peter George Centre for Living and Learning.

“This is an era of increased competition for limited public resources,” says Wilkinson. “There is an expectation that universities are focused and deliberative in their requests and investments, and proactive in their ongoing pursuit of new sources of funding, particularly for research activities.”

The budget makes assumptions about the proposed new provincial formula, which reintroduces corridor funding based on a five-year enrolment average. It also includes the updated 2017/18 and 2018/19 tuition framework increases, and makes conservative projections for flattened tuition rates in 2019/20.

The budget planners confronted several cost pressures as they considered their options. Inflationary pressures or salaries and benefits are projected to be more than $15 million per year.

The need to maintain and enhance the quality of education results in funds to recruit and hire additional faculty positions and to further faculty renewal. There are also rising needs to continue to improve educational infrastructure, particularly in classrooms and student areas.

The budget includes new resources to ensure McMaster’s reputation and distinct differentiated brand are known across an increasingly competitive marketplace. There are investments in a variety of activities including a robust media strategy, a refreshed brand identity and improvements to the University’s websites.

The budget also begins the funding of some of the key recommendations in the recently completed IT Service Review, such as improvements in technology infrastructure, enhanced network security and business intelligence and e-procurement capabilities.