UCCI expects budget boost

An infusion of government money will help balance the books at the university college

An anticipated infusion of $1.3 million from the Ministry of Education is allowing the University College of the Cayman Islands to end its year with a balanced budget.

According to material presented by UCCI president and CEO Stacy McAfee at Wednesday’s board of governors meeting, the additional funding has been approved by Cabinet and awaits clearance by the government’s finance committee.

The money is intended to cover:

  • The Cabinet approved 5% cost-of-living adjustment for the fiscal year ending 31 Dec.;
  • Funds set out for a data-management system; and
  • Select faculty and staff positions either new or replacement.

The added funds eliminate an anticipated deficit for the year, but the campus may be looking for additional money as well.

For months, UCCI has been awaiting completion of a study of its job descriptions by the Portfolio of the Civil Service, designed to bring its employees under the salary structure of civil servants. The study was originally due to be completed in June.

Although officials said they have no way of knowing what the results of the study will be and whether faculty members will receive their first raise in many years, they have allocated $363,000 in their budget to cover an anticipated increase in salaries. That item actually threw the projected budget into a deficit of $311,000.

Board chairman Mark Scotland said new faculty and staff at UCCI along with the cost-of-living increase were major factors in pushing the university operations into deficit. He said ministry officials recognise the need for the campus to grow, and not only provided the additional money to shore up this year’s budget, but indicated they would approve a larger budget for the coming year.

“We know the 2020 budget at least covers everything in the supplementary,” Scotland said, referring to the year-end accounting.

“We’re thankful for the government helping us,” Scotland said. “We can definitely work with what has been allocated. We can continue to move ahead.”

While expenses for the school have increased by 60% over last year, income, including the recent government addition, increased just 55%.

The good news for UCCI is that tuition income increased by 63%. McAfee said much of that was due to growth in professional and continuing education students, who pay higher tuition fees than undergraduates.

Enrollment this fall has also grown by 12.2% over last year, she said.