Enrollment exceeds provincial funding levels

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By Kevin Ritchie

Ryerson administration are lobbying the provincial Tories to change an odd funding formula that robs them of millions of dollars each year.

A full-time students in applied arts equals one Basic Income Unit (BIU). An engineering student equals two BIUs, while business students equal one-and-a-half.

A student’s program determines how much money the university will get from the provincial government. The more expensive the program, the more expensive the student.

But the province caps funding at 20,568 BIUs, and with enrolment rising, Ryerson is accepting more students than it receives funding for. Last year, Ryerson accepted 3,750 BIUs for which it received no money from the provincial government.

Paul Stenton, director of university planning, said those extra BIUs amount to a $12-million loss in operating funds, which apart from student, also go toward things like the library and hiring faculty.

The provincial government says it’s aware of the problems with the rigid funding formula and has been working for more than a year to fix it.

Dianne Cunningham, Minister of Training Colleges and Universities, visited Ryerson on Monday to hear administration’s concerns.

The ministry realizes there is no room for growth in the current BIU system, Cunningham said, and it’s working toward a new formula.

“We want to develop a dialogue that will develop a funding model that allows for growth,” Cunningham said. “Everybody won’t be happy. They never are. But what we want is a thoughtful process.”

Cunningham hopes she’ll be able to gather input from all postsecondary schools by January and have a new system et up soon after.

“We want to get all of the pieces together before we put it out,” she said.

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