Strategic Investment Fund: Common questions

What is the Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund and what does it mean for UNB?

In March, the federal government announced that over the next three years, $2 billion will be invested in post-secondary infrastructure. Post Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund (SIF) is focused on enhancing and modernizing research and commercialization facilities on Canadian campuses.

UNB’s capital planning processes have been tracking the university’s need for infrastructure investments, some of which may now be possible through this program. The turn-around time for submitting applications was short, but our capital planning teams on each campus succeeded in examining the program in detail and assessing which capital infrastructure priorities might meet the program’s criteria.

What projects are UNB applying for?

Four priority projects that meet the fund criteria and are capable of being completed within the federal governments timeline have been identified:

  • The Centre for Healthy Living (F)
  • Engineering Innovative and Maker Space (F)
  • Ward Chipman Student Learning & Achievement Centre (SJ)
  • Multi-Research Greenhouse Replacement (SJ)

Why is UNB focusing its priorities on buildings instead of people and programs?

This SIF program is a dedicated funding program that can’t be used for anything other than infrastructure. It’s a once in a decade opportunity we chose to participate in because creating new space to improve our programs, research capacity, student experience and community outreach will support our people and recruit new students and researchers.

Who has the university consulted with?

These projects have been long-standing priorities at the university and many have been consulted with along the way. The application process for the SIF program was extremely tight, so decisions about which projects UNB was going to apply for needed to be made quickly. The program criteria required projects to be near shovel ready and the four identified by the university were the projects that were far enough along to qualify and matched the program’s focus on research and innovation.

There are other infrastructure needs on our campuses. Why were these chosen?

Infrastructure priorities are based on academic needs, business cases, deferred maintenance and social responsibility.

There’s lots of work to be done on UNB’s campuses, but these were the projects that we selected based onour infratstructure priorites as well as the criteria for the SIF program.

UNB claims to be in a tough financial state. How can you justify building new buildings?

We’re hoping that this program may provide us with the opportunity to reduce our costs related to deferred maintenance and capital operating costs. For example:

  • The Centre for Healthy living project would reduce the university’s deferred maintenance costs by $7 million and save us $270,000/year in operating costs.
  • The Ward Chipman Student Learning and Achievement Centre would eliminate 20% of the total deferred maintenance on the Saint John campus and would save the university $408,425/year.

The SIF program is a dedicated funding program that can’t be used for anything other than infrastructure. It’s a once in a decade opportunity we chose to participate in because creating new space to improve our programs, research capacity, student experience and community outreach will support our people and help recruit new students and researchers.

What are the next steps?

Applications for the four priority projects that matched the criteria of the funding program have been submitted to the Federal Government. We expect to hear which of our applications were successful in the near future. We’re told it should be sometime this summer. We will inform the UNB community once we have more information.

How much money does the university plan to invest in these projects? Where’s the money coming from?

Once the university knows which (if any) of the projects are successful and how much the government is willing to put towards the successful projects, we’ll know how much needs to be raised.

UNB has asked for 50% of the project costs to come from the federal government, 25% from the provincial government, leaving 25% to be raised by the university, some of which has already been raised.

It’s important to be aware that money used for infrastructure at UNB does not impact the operational budget of the university. Tuition revenue will not be used for these potential projects.

Has tuition gone up as a result of these projects?

No. Infrastructure spending does not come from tuition revenue. Tuition has not been raised as a result of these projects moving forward.

Where do I get more information?

For more information, contact us at talktous@unb.ca.