Let’s Fund Schools Based ON Factors That Are Out Of Their Control. What Could Go Wrong?

As is usually the case with these things I’m open to hearing why this isn’t a stupid idea, but it strikes me that basing more than half of a college or university’s provincial funding on factors like how many students graduate, how many of them wind up employed and how much money they make is going to create more problems than it solves.

I can maybe handle graduation rate, because if a not insignificant percentage of people who start your program don’t finish it there’s at least a sporting chance that the problem may be with you, not them. You still run into the issue of how to get better with less money, but in a case like this you weren’t doing well with more, so if anything it’s an opportunity to step back, rethink and restructure.

But employment and pay? All we hear anymore is how much the job market is changing and how hard it is for even the most well educated people to find good, stable work in their chosen fields. If they can find work at all, it might be low paying work like retail, which then gets counted against the schools. How is that fair?

We also can’t discount the notion that making everyone compete for such a large amount of funding might serve as a disincentive to offering programs that are absolutely useful to society but aren’t likely to look good in the statistics. Indirectly, it’s a way for the people managing the purse strings to influence what students are allowed to learn by gradually getting rid of disciplines they don’t like.

Over all, assuming that the scheme works as intended, if it does anything other than diminish the quality of someone’s education, I’ll be stunned.

Future funding for post-secondary institutions in Ontario will depend on metrics such as graduates’ earnings and employment rates.
The Progressive Conservative government announced in its recent budget that it will start tying more funding for the province’s colleges and universities to performance outcomes.
Only a small proportion of funding has been linked to institutional performance in recent years — 1.4 per cent for universities and 1.2 per cent for colleges — but that will go up to 60 per cent in the next five years.

On budget day, the government could not specify what criteria would be used to evaluate performance, but Training, Colleges and Universities Minister Merrilee Fullerton listed some Thursday in the legislature.

Those measures will include graduation rate, graduate employment, graduate earnings, experiential learning, skills and competencies, research funding and capacity, and community impact.
Fullerton later said that the institutions will be allowed to weight the metrics.

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