Students Encourage Experiential Learning Incentives, Quality Metrics in University Funding Formula Submission

The Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) is proud to announce the release of Formulating Change: Recommendations for Ontario’s University Funding Formula Reform. In early 2015, the provincial government announced plans to conduct a review of the processes by which it allocates funds to universities, with the goal of developing a more “quality-driven, sustainable and transparent” model of distributing resources. OUSA’s submission contains student-centric and quality-based propositions on how Ontario can improve and modernize the funding framework.

“The existing formula is out of date— it overemphasizes increasing enrolment and doesn’t necessarily reflect the true cost of delivering programs,” said Spencer Nestico-Semianiw, OUSA President and Vice-President Education of the McMaster Students Union (MSU). “We should be working to develop a funding formula that better reflects the present reality of how our universities have developed, and more importantly, a funding formula that incentivizes the changes we want to see in the future.”

The submission details what these changes could entail, including (but not limited to) creating funding incentives for programs that include experiential learning components or capstone projects, creating and enforcing funding based on university performance metrics, and changing the nature of enrolment-based funding to better reflect shifting youth demographics.

The submission also suggests ways in which a new funding formula could be employed to encourage institutional differentiation. OUSA recommends allocating specific funding support for universities that have “flagship” or distinctive program offerings. This allows them to invest resources into innovation without siphoning funds away from other traditional course provisions.

“Universities should still be funded in a way that allows them to provide comprehensive and high-quality course offerings across different disciplines,” continues Nestico-Semianiw. “But we believe that pursuing consistency doesn’t have to stifle originality. Higher education is a sector characterized by constant change, and our new funding formula should allow for that evolution.”

Formulating Change also urges the government to use the funding formula (in concert with the tuition framework and other government grants) to halt the decline in resources allocated per-student that the sector has seen in recent years.

To read Formulating Change: Recommendations for Ontario’s University Funding Formula Reform, click here.