An update on how McMaster is addressing financial challenges

People with backpacks walk on the paths that have been cleared on a snowy McMaster campus.

The university is implementing proactive measures while remaining optimistic for the future, Provost Susan Tighe and VP Operations and Finance Saher Fazilat write in a message to the community.

Dear McMaster faculty and staff,  

As you may be aware, universities across Ontario have been impacted by the financial challenges facing our province’s post-secondary sector 

The 10 per cent tuition cut in 2019, followed by four years of a tuition freeze, combined with the more than 30 per cent decline in provincial grants for Ontario post-secondary schools since 2006-07, have resulted in all universities finding themselves in financially demanding situations. 

Each university has been affected differently and it is important that our campus community understands how McMaster is responding.  

We are deeply thankful to the university’s financial managers for their prudent fiscal management, which included a careful and measured response during the pandemic and usage of an activity-based budget model that brings accountability, clarity and transparency.  

These collective efforts and the careful planning and seeking out of efficiencies across all units, especially during the past three years, have ensured McMaster continues to be in a strong financial position to support the mission of the university and the aspirations of our students, faculty, researchers and staff while continuing to operate as normal.  

Despite this work, McMaster also faces financial pressures, including a decrease in enrolment by international students and higher costs due to inflation and operating costs.  

Though we are optimistic about the future, we have the opportunity to take proactive actions now. These measured, marginal actions include implementing some oversight measures to ensure this year’s expenses are more aligned with expected revenues.  

Some examples of this are being mindful of travel or projects, thinking differently when hiring staff, including natural attrition or delaying filling positions, and identifying opportunities for cross-department and organizational efficiencies, such as sharing resources and purchasing items together.  

We have also asked financial managers to prioritize student, academic and research support while carefully considering managing impacts on their teams’ workloads. 

These proactive measures are in line with our ongoing prudent and fiscally responsible approach to finance, and our continued focus on operational excellence. By finding small savings now, we aim to reduce the need for reactive cuts in the future. We will also continue to explore and support alternative revenue generation measures.  

We will continue our advocacy efforts related to the recommendations of the provincial government-appointed Blue-Ribbon Panel. The fulfilment of the recommendations, including boosting funding grants and allowing tuition increases, is necessary to ensure the financial health of the sector. At this point, the proposed measures by the panel are recommendations only and their impact is dependent on what the government decides.  

We appreciate your support and patience while we work through these measures together. We feel confident that we have the right people and expertise to ensure McMaster continues to be well positioned to support excellence in research, teaching and learning and student success.  


Susan Tighe
Provost and Vice-President (Academic) 

Saher Fazilat
Vice-President, Operations and Finance