Ontario university funding formula to be renewed

The University Funding Model Review releases report with suggestions of how the new funding system should be structured

The Ontario government allocates grants to universities based on a funding formula.
Supplied by Benson Kua via Wikimedia Commons

The Ontario government will be revising the way they give funding to universities in the province, which could alter the way Queen’s receives funding. 

The province gives grants to universities based on a pre-existing funding formula that determines how much funding a university is eligible for. However, the Ontario government has decided to re-evaluate the funding formula due to the growth of universities in Ontario.

A consultation report by the University Funding Model Review, a government appointed working group, was released in December 2015. The report makes several recommendations:

  • That the new fund be guided by undergraduate-focused improvement.
  • That it’s based on standardized and publically-accessible data and provides a rationale for differences in funding between institutions.
  • That the new formula be predictable so universities can engage in more long-term financial planning.
  • That teaching performance should be a major factor in deciding the allocation of funding. The performance would be measured by factors including graduation rates, graduate employment rates and students’ time-to-completion.
  • That the formula recognize the differences between universities. For example, a university that offers more expensive programing could get more funding than a university that offers cheaper programing. 

The current funding formula allocates the majority of its grants to universities primarily based on student enrolment. The fund, made up of $2.6 billion for the 2015-16 year, allocates money to universities based on its enrolment trends.

However, the December 2015 report states that funding based on enrolment growth will no longer provide the sustainable funds universities need to cover rising costs. 

Performance funding is generally allocated on the basis of key performance indicators (KPIs) — criteria that measures relative success. KPIs used for universities are the graduation rate and the employment rates after six months and two years following graduation.

Universities can also receive special purpose grants in exchange for meeting specific policy objectives, or receive funding for special circumstances to meet the needs of students and institutions. 

In our next issue, The Journal will report on how the proposed recommendations will affect Queen’s students.

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