By Joseph Quigley 
BELLEVILLE – Loyalist College is within $180,000 of its financial goal of a balanced budget for 2015-16, according to the school’s latest financial update.
The projection, delivered to Loyalist’s board of governors  on Thursday, is based on budget estimates from departments across the school. The estimates go till the end of Loyalist’s fiscal year in March.
“The work is ongoing to get us within a fully balanced position for this year,” said Mary Lynn Rutledge, chair of the board’s finance, corporate services and governance committee. “We remain committed to achieving our goal of a balanced budget by the year end.”
The projection is an improvement over the 2014-15 fiscal year, when Loyalist had a $1.1 million shortfall against its original planned deficit . That resulted in an overall $3.6 million deficit for the college last year.
Loyalist president Maureen Piercy said she is happy with the new projection.
“We were pleased to be able to provide the board with that update,” she told QNet News following the meeting. “It represents very hard work by managers and staff across the college.
“It’s a real tribute to staff that we’re that close, and we still remain committed to balancing fully.”
Piercy noted that there were a variety of reasons for the $180,000 shortfall, as it takes into account revenues and expenses across the entire college.
One revenue steam for Loyalist is successful recruitment of international students. Loyalist’s senior vice-president of academic and student success, John McMahon, returned this week from a trip to China. The trip was to recruit students and work on partnerships with colleges in China.
“We’re trying to be diverse with the international dossier and it was a very productive trip,” McMahon told the board.
Governor David MacKinnon asked McMahon: “Do you see the (international) activities ever being on the scale of making a significant dent of the revenue challenges we face?”
McMahon said he is confident they could.
“Absolutely. The reality for many Ontario colleges is the revenue generated from international students, particularly those studying here in Canada, is significant,” he said. “In many cases, that’s the difference between being in a healthy financial state or not. There is no question that is a strong motivator for us.”
International students pay over three time as much  as domestic students on average at post-secondary institutions in Canada. Loyalist College has an international student population of over 100 and plans to increase that to 200 in the next five years.