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College, university funding to be based on performance, not enrolment

New funding model 'not a cost-saving measure,' said Sault MPP, who's also the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities
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Funding for Ontario colleges and universities will now be increasingly tied to performance on 10 measures (or "metrics"), rather than based on enrolment. 

It is anticipated 60 per cent of operating funding will be based on performance by 2024-25.

"I’ve been speaking about this with the presidents of all of our colleges and universities across all of Ontario for the better part of a year and a half,” said Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities and Sault MPP Ross Romano, at an announcement in Sault Ste. Marie this week, noting many students work hard to earn a degree or diploma but still have difficulty finding gainful employment.

“(Colleges and universities moving forward) can ensure that they can continue to deliver great programs at their institutions, but focus those programs and focus their fields of study on the areas where we know where jobs are going to be.

“We do not want to, in any way, be penalizing our institutions. That is not the purpose of this. This is not a cost-saving measure.

“If an institution was unfortunately not successful in meeting their targets and they lost some of their funding, the funding that was lost would go into the pot for all those institutions in that particular metric and then they would all share that pot.” 

The provincial government will hold off on linking institutional funding to the performance metrics for two years (2020-21 and 2021-22) under its new Strategic Mandate Agreement (SMA) as institutions struggle with the impact of COVID-19.

The government provides approximately $5.2 billion in operating funding every year to support Ontario’s 21 publicly-assisted universities and 24 publicly-assisted colleges. Up to now, most of that operating funding has been based on enrolment, with only a small portion of funding currently tied to performance.

Until 2020–21, only 1.4 per cent of a university’s funding and 1.2 per cent of a college’s funding was tied to performance.

Previous SMAs ran from 2014 to 2017 and 2017 to 2020.

Does this mean colleges and universities will be finding themselves having to drop programs in subjects such as History, English or Political Science, known as ‘liberal arts’ or ‘the humanities?’

Not entirely, Romano said, speaking to SooToday.

“It is so critical that they (tech companies) have the artistic merit...the technology sector, an engineering degree interwoven with an arts degree (makes) the design of a product so important. The design elements, the humanities are so critical right now, the arts are so critical as they intersect with our tech sector.”

The 10 metrics included within the new SMA include:

  1. Graduate employment earnings
  2. Experiential learning
  3. Skills and competencies
  4. Graduate employment rate in a related field
  5. Institutional strength/focus
  6. Graduation rate
  7. Research funding and capacity for universities, and apprenticeship-related for colleges
  8. Research funding from industry sources/funding from industry sources
  9. Community/local impact of student population
  10. Economic impact (institution-specific)

Two additional reporting metrics, related to faculty compensation and faculty activity (not related to performance based funding), will be introduced beginning in 2022-23.




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Darren Taylor

About the Author: Darren Taylor

Darren Taylor is a news reporter and photographer in Sault Ste Marie. He regularly covers community events, political announcements and numerous board meetings. With a background in broadcast journalism, Darren has worked in the media since 1996.
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