New post-secondary funding model in Alberta linked to performance measures

CALGARY—Alberta’s new funding model for postsecondary institutions links some of the money to performance measures.

Advanced Education Minister Demetrios Nicolaides says starting in April, up to 15 percent of operating funds provided to schools through grants will be tied to enrollment, graduation rates and meeting student needs. working market.

That number will rise to 40 percent of funding by 2022.

“I am proud to announce today a complete transformation in government funding for our post-secondary institutions,” Nicolaides said at a news conference on Monday. “This new model is designed to help our students succeed.

“We can build a stronger post-secondary system … that ensures young Albertans can find rewarding careers (and) a stronger system that ensures taxpayer dollars are used to support teaching and research rather than increase the administration”.

Nicolaides said that the financing model is used successfully in the United States, some European countries and in Hong Kong.

“Policymakers and leaders around the world are closely watching the relationship between government funding and labor market outcomes for postsecondary institutions, and we must do the same to remain competitive.”

Consultations with universities, colleges and polytechnics will begin immediately. The United Conservative government has the final say on performance targets which will be unique to each institution.

Other performance measures could include administrative expenses, job-embedded learning opportunities, and income from sponsored research.

Nicolaides said schools will not be forced to compete with each other for taxpayer dollars.

Institutions that meet all of their goals will receive 100 percent of the allocated funds. Minor results will be treated proportionally. For example, if a school reaches 90 percent of its goal, it will receive 90 percent of its funding for that goal.

The plan is to implement some measures this year. More will be introduced in the following years up to a maximum of about 15 measures.

They will be included in new three-year funding agreements with post-secondary schools. Agreements will detail performance targets and the money to be received if they are met.

The Alberta Council of Postsecondary Presidents said it has been calling for changes in funding. But he cautioned in a statement that “whatever funding model is developed must build on well-established system strengths and not create unhealthy competition among Alberta’s post-secondary institutions.”

The council noted that schools are already dealing with five per cent cuts in operating budgets introduced in last fall’s provincial budget, with more cuts to come.

The opposition NDP said the government should focus on reversing decisions it has already made, such as lifting the tuition freeze.

“Instead of trying to distract attention from their failings in this file and tying our institutions and students to increased red tape, Minister Nicolaides should focus on undoing the devastating cuts they have already imposed,” the critic said. NDP Sarah Hoffman in a statement. .

This year’s higher education operating spending is $5.1 billion and will be reduced over four years to $4.8 billion.

Last week, Nicolaides sent letters to 21 post-secondary schools warning that they are going over budget this year. He urged them to immediately cut spending in areas such as travel, accommodation and hiring.

— By Dean Bennett in Edmonton

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