Mixed response for performance-based post-secondary funding
By Nathan Woolridge, News Editor
The Government of Alberta introduced a new outcomes-based post-secondary funding approach on Jan. 20, as it looks to “increase transparency and accountability and help build a modern and diverse workforce for the future.” The transformation of post-secondary funding is receiving mixed reviews from both universities and students.
“This is a new and completely transformative funding model for our universities, colleges and polytechnics. Our new approach will help ensure students are set up for success by encouraging institutions to produce job-ready graduates,” says Minister of Advanced Education, Demetrios Nicolaides. “Students make a significant investment in their post-secondary education, and it is essential we do everything possible to give them a rewarding career at the end of their studies. By shifting the focus to performance, we will ensure taxpayer dollars are being used in the most responsible way possible.”
MRU reacted to the news of the performance-based funding model with a statement from President and Vice-Chancellor, Tim Rahilly, who says the university is on “the same page as [the] government.”
Rahilly says the changes help students “to become work-ready graduates and creating innovative programs that foresee the future labour force, all while constantly improving our services and being efficient.”
According to a Government of Alberta press release, “Under the new funding model, a portion of government funding to colleges, universities and polytechnics will be based on achieving key performance measures. Performance measures will encourage. institutions to improve services, increase efficiencies and create opportunities for Albertans through strong labour market. outcomes and innovative programs and research.”
“Today’s announcement is appreciated because it gives us greater clarity, enables a transition period, and allows us to provide input on the metrics used,” Rahilly says.
But, on SAMRU’s website, they shared a release from The Council of Alberta University Students (CAUS), which says students are concerned with the idea of performance-based funding.
“While post-secondary funding in Alberta needs transparency, university students fear this punitive funding model could be detrimental to their education if metrics are not equitable,” CAUS Chair Sadiya Nazir stated. “CAUS again calls on the Government of Alberta and Minister Nicolaides for thoughtful, evidence-based post- secondary institutional funding.”
CAUS itself says the shift of funding is concerning, especially after recent cuts to post-secondary education already implemented by the government.
“It is currently unclear whether funding will remain in the [post-secondary education] system or be allocated elsewhere if an institution does not meet their minimum [performance- based funding] targets. The latter would ultimately translate to an additional cut to post- secondary in Alberta and would negatively impact students and institutions in our province,” CAUS says in its statement.