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'No risk' that Queen's University will close, school principal says

Queen's University in Kingston, Ont., on Sept. 3, 2015. (THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Lars Hagberg) Queen's University in Kingston, Ont., on Sept. 3, 2015. (THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Lars Hagberg)

The head of Queen's University is assuring students and faculty that the university will not close, amid reports the school is facing significant financial difficulties.

In an open letter on Friday, Queen's University principal and vice-chancellor Patrick Deane said that while the current financial situation poses challenges, reports and rumours that the school could shut its doors are untrue.

"It is imperative at this point for me to set the record straight. Anyone reading this will likely have seen headlines suggesting Queen’s is losing its position as a top tier institution and may be under threat of financial ruin. I can assure you none of this is true," Deane said.

"That strain will continue to be felt in the coming year, but I know that as we have done in the past, we will face whatever obstacles lie ahead and emerge stronger for our efforts. I am grateful to all who continue to support Queen’s."

Deane says the administration is meeting with community members about the budget and says comments about the school's finances, "unfairly depict the situation in which the university finds itself."

"Let me be very clear that there is no risk that Queen’s in any foreseeable future will close its doors. The university continues to provide for and produce some of the best minds in Canada and that will be its future," Deane said.

The Kingston, Ont. university said in a budget update last year that it has implemented a hiring freeze and is imposing a reduction on its faculty and shared services budgets. The school is currently facing a $48 million deficit.

The school has also decided to no longer accept new admissions to its Arts and Science Online (ASO) degree and certificate programs for Jan. 2024.

The university has so far relied on its financial reserves to cover its operating deficits, but says that path is not sustainable.

The university's school newspaper, The Queen's Journal, reported leaked documents earlier this month showing some courses in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences with less than 10 students, will be cut. The university is expected to exhaust its reserve funds by 2025-26 if more cuts aren't implemented, the newspaper reported.

Many universities across Ontario are already in perilous financial situations. The Government of Canada deciding to cap international student enrolment this week will likely only add more strain on their budgets.

"The decisions that lie ahead of us and the likely changes that will come will be the result of great care, consideration and reflection by all those entrusted to lead this university, including myself," Deane said.

"Queen’s University is a proud institution with a long history, an enviable reputation, and it will indeed have a brilliant future. To ensure that is the essence of my responsibility and commitment as Principal." Top Stories

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