COLLABORATION

Ontario budget ties university funding to performance

SOURCE: Lester Balajadia/Shutterstock
Ontario provincial parliament. Their new budget ties university funding to performance.

In its latest budget, the Ontario government is putting more conditions on higher education funding, saying money for the province’s public colleges and universities will increasingly be tied to performance outcomes.

While previous agreements with the province outlined that only 1.4 percent of funding would be tied to performance, Premier Doug Ford’s first provincial budget since coming to office plans to increase this to 60 percent by 2024–2025.

Beginning in 2020, 25 percent of revenue that universities receive from provincial grants would be contingent on whether the institution meets guidelines set out by the government or not, according to The Varsity. That proportion will rise annually to reach 60 percent by 2024-25.

The government could not specify what criteria will be used to evaluate post-secondary performance, saying it will work with institutions to develop the metrics. Graduation and employment rates are already used to gauge performance.

Likely metrics include skills outcomes, job outcomes, and economic and community impact.

Also proposed in the budget were plans to possibly lower the average retirement age of faculty in a bid to decrease salary costs and create a more “dynamic” workforce.

The budget, unveiled earlier this month, shows that spending on higher education and training is set to decrease from US$12.1 billion in 2018-19 to US$11.7 billion at the end of the Conservative’s four-year term, producing an average annual drop of one percent.

“The government is restoring accountability to Ontario’s post-secondary education system to ensure that publicly assisted post-secondary institutions are providing the positive economic outcomes the students and people of Ontario need,” the fiscal blueprint says, according to Global News.

The opposition party expressed concern about the proposed changes, saying the government appeared to be using funding as a threat to control education institutions.

“I think what Mr. Ford is signalling to colleges and universities is, ‘if you don’t teach what we want you to teach, then you’re going to get your funding cut,”’ New Democratic Party Leader Andrea Horwath said.