By Madison Ranta

The University of New Brunswick (UNB) announced an ambitious fundraising campaign on Nov. 18 that aims to raise the largest amount of money in the university’s history.

Titled “It Begins Here,” the campaign aims to raise $110 million for UNB by April 30, 2018. According to a press release, the university plans to allocate $55 million of its total fundraising goal to financial support for students in the form of bursaries and scholarships.

“We’ve been planning this [fundraising campaign] for a number of years,” said Susan Montague, a campaign advisor at UNB’s office of development and donor relations. “We’ve been extremely encouraged and pleased by the response that we’ve had so far.”

According to Montague, the university raised over $77 million in donations before the launch of the campaign during a ‘quiet phase’ in which the university reached out “to those alumni and friends and businesses and foundations who have the closest affinity to the institution, and the greatest ability to make a significant gift.”

“For the remainder, we’ll be talking more broadly to the alumni community, to faculty and staff, to businesses within the province and beyond, and putting out a much broader appeal than we’ve been doing up to now,” Montague explained.

On average, Montague said UNB receives $12-13 million annually in donations from a variety of sources, including alumni and corporations. Of the university’s current $7.8 million in undergraduate funding awards, $4.8 million comes from donors.

“We have a number of general scholarship and bursary funds that donors can contribute to, but we also have quite a number of donors who are establishing named scholarships,” Montague said. “Each of those scholarships would have specific criteria attached to it, in terms of whether it’s for a student in arts or engineering, whether it’s for students from a certain geographic area. We try to encourage our donors to leave the scholarships as unrestricted as possible, but very often people have preferences for the type of student who would receive their reward.”

Montague added that a majority of UNB scholarships “have a financial needs component” that takes into consideration an applicant’s ability to cover tuition costs.

With 18 months remaining to raise the campaign’s outstanding $33 million, Montague says that she can say “with a reasonable amount of confidence” that the $110 goal will be reached.

Ryan Davies, director of communications at Carleton University’s department of university advancement, said that fundraising campaigns are standard and necessary for post-secondary education.

Carleton launched its “Collaborate” campaign on Nov. 5, 2015, with the aim of raising $300 million by the university’s 75th anniversary in 2017.

Through Carleton’s crowdfunding website, FutureFunder, community members also have the option of donating to a number of charitable projects put forward by students, departments, or researchers. Donors were encouraged to participate in Giving Tuesday on Nov. 29, and all donations that day will be matched by the university.

For Kevin Koudys, a Carleton first-year Masters student in sociology, increasing financial aid to students is not always a necessary step that universities can take to ease students’ financial burdens.

“I would argue that there are already avenues for students to receive financial aid by their

institution” Koudys said. “I would also strongly argue that universities can do better providing access to clearer and more defined databases for external scholarships and bursaries, as millions of dollars go unclaimed each year.”