Main menu:

History of RPE Thought

Posts by Tag

RSS New from the CCPA

  • A critical look at BC’s new tax breaks and subsidies for LNG May 7, 2019
    The BC government has offered much more to the LNG industry than the previous government. Read the report by senior economist Marc Lee.  
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • The 2019 living wage for Metro Vancouver April 30, 2019
    The 2019 living wage for Metro Vancouver is $19.50/hour. This is the amount needed for a family of four with each of two parents working full-time at this hourly rate to pay for necessities, support the healthy development of their children, escape severe financial stress and participate in the social, civic and cultural lives of […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Time to regulate gas prices in BC and stop industry gouging April 29, 2019
    Drivers in Metro Vancouver are reeling from record high gas prices, and many commentators are blaming taxes. But it’s not taxes causing pain at the pump — it’s industry gouging. Our latest research shows that gas prices have gone up by 55 cents per litre since 2016 — and the vast majority of that increase […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • CCPA welcomes Randy Robinson as new Ontario Director March 27, 2019
    The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives is pleased to announce the appointment of Randy Robinson as the new Director of our Ontario Office.  Randy’s areas of expertise include public sector finance, the gendered rise of precarious work, neoliberalism, and labour rights. He has extensive experience in communications and research, and has been engaged in Ontario’s […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • 2019 Federal Budget Analysis February 27, 2019
    Watch this space for response and analysis of the federal budget from CCPA staff and our Alternative Federal Budget partners. More information will be added as it is available. Commentary and Analysis  Aim high, spend low: Federal budget 2019 by David MacDonald (CCPA) Budget 2019 fiddles while climate crisis looms by Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood (CCPA) Budget hints at priorities for upcoming […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
Progressive Bloggers

Meta

Recent Blog Posts

Posts by Author

Recent Blog Comments

The Progressive Economics Forum

The Double Whammy of Defunding Universities

As I’ve blogged about here, federal funding for post-secondary education (PSE) in Canada is decreasing.  Between 1985-1986 and 2007-2008, annual federal cash transfers to Ontario for PSE (in constant 2007 dollars) decreased from roughly $1.4 billion to just under $1 billion. (Yet, during that same period, PSE enrolment in Ontario increased by more than 60 percent).

And as I’ve written about here, during Dalton McGuinty’s time as Premier of Ontario, Ontario PSE enrolment has increased at a greater rate than provincial funding increases for PSE.

In addition to the obvious impact that this defunding can have on quality (i.e. larger class sizes, which I’ve blogged about here), I believe that such defunding can also exacerbate at least two types of inequities. 

First, it can exacerbate inequities between students, based on both class and race. I blogged about the latter yesterday; some students have more money than others, and therefore have an easier time coping with the higher tuition that has accompanied this defunding. 

Second, it can exarcebate inequities between institutions, as some post-secondary institutions have an easier time making up the funding shortfall than others.  Sometimes, these differences stem from how old the institution is (which impacts the pool of wealthy alumni). It can also stem from how much emphasis the university places on recruiting a President who’s believed to be a skilled fundraiser, rather than a President deemed to be a good, all-round leader, able to work effectively with many campus stakeholders, including faculty associations, staff associations, unions and student groups.

(Needless to say, intense competition for more funding isn’t always a good thing. As a recent legal case illustrates, intense pressure to raise more funds for a university can lead to charges of corruption.)

Evidence from the United States suggests that the potential for increased inequity between institutions is no small matter. Jeffrey Selingo is the editor of The Chronicle of Higher Education.  In a recent piece looking at universities in the United States, he argues the following:

“Among the wealthiest private four-year institutions (in the top quartile of endowments), the median increase in instructional spending per full-time equivalent student from 2003-4 to 2008-9 was 10 percent. The growth in the bottom quartile (colleges with the smallest endowments) was only 3 percent.

Among colleges with the largest endowments in 2008-9, the median instructional spending per student was $17,934. That’s about $10,000 more than at institutions in the bottom quartile. In sum, this means that the top quartile is continuing to pull away from the bottom quartile in this measure of spending.”

While I suspect that the gulf between the wealthiest and poorest universities in the United States is larger than in Canada, I worry that this same trend is indeed present in Canada.

In terms of a policy response, I think elected officials should pay attention to the concept of a federal Post-Secondary Education Act, as proposed by both the Canadian Federation of Students and the Canadian Association of University Teachers. In effect, both groups advocate in favour of:

“the adoption of legislation or other binding forms of agreement that would establish conditions for federal postsecondary education transfers. These conditions must commit the provinces to upholding principles similar to those of the Canada Health Act: public administration, affordability, comprehensiveness, democratic governance, and academic freedom. In return for upholding these principles, provincial governments would receive increased and predictable funding from the federal government.”
 
 

 

Enjoy and share:

Comments

Comment from passerby
Time: August 21, 2011, 9:38 am

It is probably even more complicated still. The stresses that you mention are not borne equally within institutions: classes in the Humanities are allowed to explode and the resources channelled towards Science, Engineering, etc.

Comment from Nik Barry-Shaw
Time: August 26, 2011, 11:05 am

The fiscal squeeze on universities contributes to another kind of inequality: that between full-time, tenure track faculty and part-time, insecure adjuct faculty and TAs. It also puts pressure on university management to offset declining funding by selling off chunks of the campus (i.e. food services) to corporate interests and cracking down on support staff working conditions.

Free education or bust, like the students in Chile! Hopefully this time in Quebec the student movement will be strong enough to prevent FEUQ and FECQ from selling out, leaving ASSÉ twisting in the wind defending its principles.

Write a comment





Related articles