By Jackie McKay
Starting next fall, Ryerson will need to specialize in a specific subject area or research intensity to access government funding according to a new differentiation policy set to take place in the spring of 2014.
The plan will only distribute funding to schools who have specified areas of interest, allocating funding based on their strengths.
The reason for the change, outlined in the differentiation policy, is to make sure there are no unnecessary duplications of programs or research.
“I think that’s unfair,” said Mariane Sarvari, a third-year arts and contemporary studies student. “It has to be even for everyone, or it’s unfair.”
While some faculties may be awarded less funding due to the plan, others — such as those that Ryerson applies for a specialty in — will receive more.
“From a business student’s perspective, I’ll need that money, but other programs that are as beneficial are getting the short end of the stick,” said Parth Lad, a second-year business student. “For any program to work in this day and age they need money.”
The policy will make more of an attempt to allocate funds based on student success and not just first-year enrolment numbers.
This will benefit Ryerson, which currently receives the seventh-highest amount of funding but gives out the third-highest number of bachelor’s degrees in Ontario because of its outcome-based approach.
The outcome-based funding model put forward by the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario and the province’s Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities is based on an American model that has seen success.
“Schools are more likely to take students by their merit, rather than trying to get as many students as they possibly can,” said Seth Holland, a fourth-year politics student at Ryerson.
The model will see schools grant funds based on variables such as graduation rates, the number of PhDs and bachelor’s degrees a school awards.
The goal of the differentiation policy is to support student success by providing access to high quality education, as well as making Ontario more competitive globally, as stated in the policy framework.
“We must now focus on improving access and quality in Ontario’s post-secondary education sector, while making our advances financially sustainable over the long term,” ministry communication branch spokesperson Tanya Blazina said in a statement to the Eyeopener.
“They will aim to steer colleges and universities to their areas of strength.”
Information regarding student success will be collected through satisfaction surveys to be filled out by students, along with data about co-op placement, to evaluate teaching and learning.
Ryerson president Sheldon Levy said universities are in the process of outlining a “strategic mandate agreement” that will outline Ryerson’s strengths, mission and vision.
“We’re in a very strong position to articulate that our mission, which is one that is of innovation entrepreneurship being close to the private sector, the public sector and the careers of students regardless if they’re undergraduate or graduate students,” Levy said.
“[There is] every indication is the government really likes what Ryerson is doing, so I think it’ll be a positive outcome.”