Following news that Laurentian University has filed for creditor protection, Conestoga President John Tibbits joined The Morning Edition host Craig Norris on CBC Kitchener for a discussion about the possibility of Conestoga and other colleges facing similar financial burdens.
Like most post-secondary institutions, the pandemic has presented the biggest challenge the college has faced in its history -- ensuring the health and safety of its employees and students while quickly re-aligning academic and business plans to reflect new realities. Closed borders and travel restrictions also created significant challenges for international students and the post-secondary institutions that support them.
Despite those challenges, President Tibbits said lower domestic enrolment numbers over the years meant that Conestoga started preparing for an uncertain future long before the pandemic by boosting international enrolment and exploring new revenue streams including corporate training and IELTS testing.
“We’ve been in tight times for years, but you have to take action,” explained Tibbits during the interview on February 4. “We have to protect the institution and have it ready for the future.”
Last spring, while facing increasing PPE costs and uncertainty around international enrolment, the college took additional measures to protect its future by making the difficult decision to decrease support staff and freezing various activities including projects and renovations.
President Tibbits noted that virus variants and the vaccination rollout still leave uncertainty about when normal operations will resume at the college, but pro-active planning to ensure sustainability means the college will deliver a balanced budget this year.
He also indicated that expansion projects, including the completion of the new Skilled Trades Training campus in Cambridge, will resume.
The full interview is available through The Morning Edition.