Not so fair university funding
By Mark Brown
Ontario universities are finally seeing the Fair Funding Grant which was promised in the last provincial budget, but few are calling it fair.
The grant, first announced May 5, will divide $29 million between a handful of universities and the Ontario College of Art and Design. The grant addresses the inequality in the funding given to post secondary institutions for each student.
The fund will close the gap created by the the existing formula used to determine how much each institution receives from the province per student, said Daniele Gauvin, spokesperson for the Ministry of Education and Training. The average amount post secondary institutions receive per student is $5,704 and is measured as the basic income unit.
The amount each school receives from the grant depends on how far they are from the average, Gauvin explained. "If they are not getting a high amount, it means they are already at a high level."
Western will receive $320,000 over three years from the grant. York University, the university with the lowest level of funding per student, will receive the most from the grant at $12.5 million over three years.
Lyn McLeod, the Liberal party's university and college critic, had several concerns with the fund. "It takes a long time to see the money they promised," she said. "I do think a lot of the delays are due to incompetency."
McLeod also questioned the timing of the fund, considering most people are anticipating an election in the new year. "There is no question that over the next few months there are going to be a lot of good news announcements."
Still, McLeod said she believes the fund will help, but added the $29 million will not make up for the cuts the Conservative government has made to education.
Blain Morin, the NDP post secondary education critic, agreed the money from the grant is welcome but added it does not solve the larger problem. "Not only does [Ontario] lag behind other provinces, it shows the sorry state the education system is in."
"The BIU system is severely flawed as a method for allocating grants," said Western President Paul Davenport. He added he has never supported the system.
He added the $29 million is only a small part of what is needed to bring Ontario universities up to the national average. Currently Ontario universities receive approximately $500 million less than the other provinces, Davenport explained.
"I think it is really a nominal figure and we need the provincial government to input more money into post secondary institutions," said Ian Armour, president of the University Students' Council.
Distribution of Fair Funding Grant (In millions)
Brock 4.24Queen's 2.5
Wilfrid Laurier 2.32