By Wojtek Dabrowski
A new Tory program that uses tiny differences in universities’ performances to make funding decision will help Ryerson, according to a recent report.
But Ryerson only narrowly edged some of its competition in one category—highlighting critic’s concerns about using fickle and fluctuating numbers to decide which institutions get money.
The recently announced provincial performance fund, which splits $16.5-million among universities according to how each performs in three categories, rewards schools that produce successful graduates.
The categories are graduation rates, employment rates six months after graduation and employment rates two years after graduation.
According to numbers from the Council of Ontario Universities (COU), Ryerson ranked 20th, 12th and third in these categories respectively, and ended up 10th overall.
It will mean more than $1.2-million in funding for Ryerson if the government allocates the grants according to the COU numbers—$420,723 for its 12th place ranking six months after graduation, and $787,787 for its third place standing two years after graduation.
Each category also divides universities into three sections. The top-third gets the most cash, while the bottom-third gets nothing—and sometimes the difference between a cash injection and nothing will depend on small number differences.
For example, because Ryerson ranks 12th in the COU’s employment statistics six months after graduation—93 per cent of grads have jobs—the university would get $421,723. But 92.94 per cent of York University grads are employed after six months—only .06 percentage points fewer than Ryerson—earning the university nothing.
Despite the disparities, Ryerson president Claude Lajeunesse said the fund is still a good idea.
“I think we owe it to the students,” Lajeunesse said, referring to basing funding on performance. “We owe it to taxpayers and we owe it to ourselves.”
“I feel good for Ryerson,” he added. “I wouldn’t feel good for York.”
Gary Smith, York’s v.p. university advancement, said the tiny differences will affect students.
“It causes a lot of difficulties,” he said. “If funding is yanked up and down like this year to year, it’s hard to provide students with what they need.”
Rosario Marchese, Ontario’s NDP university and college critic, said the system is outrageous. “It’s a stupid, stupid system, based on stupid logic.”
Marchese said the system isn’t based on need “so the universities which need more and getting less.”
Linda Nicolson, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, said “the idea here is to strengthen accountability in the postsecondary in the postsecondary sector.”
Cash based on performance will account for one per cent of all government postsecondary funding next year.