Too soon to know how Humber College will be measured to receive provincial funding

Published On April 15, 2019 | By kitkolbegger | News

Humber College Lakeshore Campus. (Humber College photo gallery)

Kit Kolbegger

There are a lot of unknowns about the future financing of Humber College and what the funding will be based on following changes announced in the provincial budget on April 11.

The Ford government said it plans to link up to 60 per cent of funding for colleges and universities to “performance outcomes,” up from the current 1.2 per cent.

While universities and colleges are currently judged on 38 performance metrics, the government said the number will drop to 10. The budget doesn’t explain what those 10 metrics will be, though it does say that post-secondary schools will individually help choose how they are measured.

“We’re going to have to work with the Ministry to identify what our areas might be,” said Andrew Leopold, Humber’s director of communications.  “I suspect our process will be aligning our performance measures with the work that we’re already doing moving forward.”

“We’re going to have to understand and learn from them what they’re looking for from the colleges, and then obviously how Humber can match that.”

Leopold said Humber may want to use performance metrics that align with its Strategic Plan, including things like providing accessible education and having a healthy, inclusive campus.

The budget said  the metrics align with the government’s focus on skills, job outcomes, and economic and community impact.

Liberal MP Mitzie Hunter,  the former minister for advanced education and skills said the changes to post-secondary funding were a surprising move.

“This is another attack on our post-secondary system,” she said. “It started at the beginning of the year with the deep cuts to student financial aid and the OSAP program.”

Hunter said her party had approached working with post-secondary schools as a partnership. The new funding changes, she said, are “a big stick that the Conservative government will have over the colleges and universities.”

The NDP’s Chris Glover, the official opposition critic for colleges and universities, said he also disagrees with the changes. He said he’s spoken to several administrations at universities and colleges since the budget came out.

“The concern with it is they don’t know how much funding they’re going to get,” Glover said. “If it’s all based on these performance metrics, then their funding could get cut by up to 60 per cent in any one year. So how can they do any long-term planning?”

Glover said being unable to plan for the future could be destabilizing for colleges and universities.

“It creates a downward spiral,” he said. “If you lose funding because you don’t meet a performance metric one year, then the next year you have less money to do a better job.”

In a press release, the government said the new budget will balance Ontario’s deficit over the next six years, calling the budget “Ontario’s Plan To Protect What Matters Most.”

In the release, Minister of Finance Vic Fedeli said, “Our plan will make every dollar count so we can continue to invest in the critical programs like health care, education, and other services that the people of Ontario rely upon each and every day.”

Also included in the budget are plans to reform apprenticeships by reducing regulatory burdens and increasing commercialization opportunities on campus. The budget also includes plans to make alcohol available earlier in the day, and a new childcare tax credit.

The first changes to post-secondary funding will go into effect in March 2020, when 25 per cent of funding will be tied to performance. The percentage will rise by 5 or 10 per cent per year until it reaches 60 per cent.

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