Queen’s is bringing outside help to tackle its $48 million operating budget deficit.
In a letter sent to all faculty and staff on Jan. 25, Principal Patrick Deane said the University hired external consultants Nous Group to gather data and understand where Queen’s needs to make investments. Deane assured faculty he’s confident Nous Group, along with Provost Matthew Evans and Vice-Principal (Finance and Administration) Donna Janiec will rise to meet the challenges posed by the strained budget.
Nous Group claims to have completed over 300 projects for 50 university clients globally, complemented by NousCubane, a Nous Group company specializing in benchmarking for higher education institutions.
NousCubane has worked for at least nine of the Canadian U15, according to the company’s website.
The leader of Nous Group’s Toronto office, Tim Kennedy, advised U15 universities on international student pricing models, cost efficiencies, and is currently leading a “three-year service transformation” for an unnamed Canadian university.
This isn’t the first time Queen’s has employed Nous Group’s services. Queen’s Advancement partnered with Nous Group to review its alumni database, and build “personas” to better understand alumni engagement and donation patterns.
Laurentian University hired Nous Group for its Governance Review and Operational Review in 2022. The two reports, which totaled over 100 pages, detailed many issues for Laurentian’s governance and operating models, and provided recommendations on how to move forward.
The reports to Laurentian were met with resistance from the university’s senate, and it’s unclear how many of the recommendations were implemented at Laurentian before it sought restructuring under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act in 2021.
In an article circulated by student advocacy group Queen’s Students versus Cuts, Peter McInnis, associate professor at St. Francis Xavier University, criticized Nous Group and its involvement with Laurentian University.
McInnis claims democratic processes through a university’s senate provide better outcomes for higher education than recruiting consulting services.
Principal Deane’s message told faculty and staff Queen’s isn’t going under. He called the years ahead “challenging” but asserted the University has a brilliant future ahead. Queen’s priorities remain its academic and research missions, and student experience, he said.
“As Principal, I am dedicating myself to keeping Queen’s on a path of success and with hard work I know we will emerge from this challenging time a stronger and even better university,” Deane said.
This is a developing story.
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