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The Senate met at 3 p.m. on Sept. 23 in Tabaret Hall. Photo: Jaclyn McRae-Sadik/Fulcrum

University talks potential challenges posed by changes to provincial funding

The University of Ottawa’s Senate met on Sept. 23 where they broke down potential challenges posed by upcoming changes to how post-secondary institutions are funded by the provincial government. 

Some students also attended in hopes of pushing the administration to cancel classes during the Global Climate Strike on Sept. 27, but mid-meeting the university said it would only ‘accommodate’ those who attended and encouraged interested students to do so.

Shifts in provincial funding and potential impacts on the U of O 

The province announced changes to post-secondary funding in its 2019 budget released in April. Previously, a minuscule share of the close to $5-billion of funding institutions received — 1.4 per cent for universities and 1.2 per cent for colleges — was tied to performance, measured in part by graduation rates and employment after graduation.

But the current operating agreement universities have with the province ends in March 2020, at which point the government plans to tie 25 per cent of post-secondary operating funding to performance for the first year. 

That rate will increase by 10 per cent annually for three years after that, capping at an increase of five per cent until it reaches 60 per cent in the 2024-25 academic year.

The shift could put about $65 million in funding at risk for the 2020-21 academic year, according to a presentation from vice-president research Sylvain Charbonneau and vice-president academic affairs Jill Scott shown at the meeting. In the 2024-25 academic year, that number jumps to around $165 million. 

The number of metrics to evaluate universities will drop from 28 to 10 under the new system. The presentation shed light on when these measures will come into effect and what they will look like, divided into a skills and job outcomes category and an economic and community impact category.

Metrics tied to skills and job outcomes 

  • The proportion of graduates employed in full-time jobs closely linked to skills and competencies they learned in their degree, two years after graduation
    • Will be measured by a study conducted on graduates from Ontario Universities
    • Will come into effect in 2020-21
  • The proportion of staff employed in programs corresponding to the university’s strong fields
    • Will be measured by a report on university staff statistics
    • Will come into effect in 2020-21
  • The proportion of new students that graduated within seven years of starting their fall semester
    • Will be measured through data on degrees and report on university staff
    • Will come into effect in 2020-21
  • The median revenue of former students, two years after graduating
    • Will be measured by a longitude graph between education and work market
    • Will come into effect in 2021-22
  • Number and proportion of students who did co-op during their studies 
    • Will be measured by a university’s own statistics
    • Will come into effect in 2021-22
  • Skills and competencies of a random sampling of students 
    • Will be measured through a standardized test
    • Will come into effect in 2022-23

Metrics tied to economic and community impact

  • Community and local impact of students, measured through the size of the university relative to the local population
    • Will be measured by university and census data
    • Will come into effect in 2020-21
  • Research funding and capacity
    • Will be measured by the amount of funding given to the university by the three federal government organizations for research: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, National Sciences and Engineering Research Council and Canadian Institutes of Health Research
    • Will come into effect in 2020-21
  • Research funding from the private sector
    • Will be measured by the Canadian Association of University Business Officers
    • Will come into effect in 2021-22
  • The institution-specific economic impact of the university, to be confirmed with universities during bilateral discussions 
    • Will be measured through university statistics
    • Will come into effect in 2020-21

Discussions between the U of O and the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities will start in November, the university says, focusing on theoretical funding, defining performance targets and confirming the weighting the university assigns to each performance target measure.

The next Senate meeting is set to be held on Oct. 21, the Monday following fall reading week. The first Board of Governors meeting of the academic year is set for this coming Monday. 

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