Data Check: Government funding for universities continues to decline

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By almost any measure, provincial public funding for Ontario universities has lagged behind every other province for nearly two decades. Reckoned in terms of inflation-adjusted per student funding, provincial support bottomed out in 2002-03, rose again for a few years, and has been falling again since 2008-09. Operating expenditures follow a similar pattern.
Over the two years following 2008-09, operating grants from the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU) – which is primarily allocated to universities according to funding-eligible student enrolments – have fallen by five per cent. When all enrolment and all provincial funding are taken into consideration, the drop has been three per cent.
With the exception of a one year drop in 2008-09, net student fees (fees, minus scholarships paid from operating funds) and other sources of income have made up enough of the difference that Ontario universities’ operating revenue from all sources has continued to increase on a per student basis.
Operating expenditure began to rise after 2003-04, a year after government income rose. It then fell in tandem with government sources after 2008-09. In the two years since, operating expenses have fallen by one and a half per cent. Controlling for pension expenses, the per-student cost of salary fell by two and a half per cent. Contrary to what some observers now claim, students are paying less for faculty salaries than they did in 2008.

Sources: MTCU – operating allocations exclude: Ontario/Queen Elizabeth II Graduate Scholarship in Science and Technology; Ontario Research Chairs; $210 million in 2006-07 year-end federal Post-Secondary Education Infrastructure Trust funding.
Council of Finance Officers – Universities of Ontario, Financial Report of Ontario Universities;
Ontario Ministry of Finance (GDP implicit price index)

This article originally appeared in the OCUFA Report. To receive stories like this every week in your inbox, please subscribe.

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