Data check: State funding for US universities stabilizes

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The free-fall in US state government support for universities is over. According to data collected by the Grapevine project at the Illinois State University Center of Education Policy, total state support in 2012-13 remains virtually the same as the previous year. That said, it is still 11 per cent lower than it was five years before.

It is largely the decline in state support that has helped reduce the gap in funding between US public four-year universities and Ontario universities, where per-student funding has always lagged behind their American peers. Between 2006-07 and 2010-11, Ontario provincial funding per student fell by 2 per cent, before inflation. State funding levels dropped by 14 per cent.

Nevertheless, the gap persists. Public support for teaching, research and public service undertaken by universities is structured differently in the US, but the evidence from Canada indicates that the gap is largely due to low per-student government funding in Ontario. Funding from the Canadian federal government helps, but the overall funding gap is still between $1.2 and $1.5 billion per year.

Grapevine, Annual Compilation of Data on State Fiscal Support for Higher Education
US National Center for Education Statistics
Council of Finance Officers – Universities of Ontario, Financial Report of Ontario Universities
Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, USER enrolment data

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