Trends in Canadian University Finance

Alex Usher, Higher Education Strategy Associates, Sept 08, 2016
Commentary by Stephen Downes
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The funny thing about Alex Usher's report in HESA is that while he keys in on the rising costs on colleges and universities in Canada, he doesn't talk about the students served by those institutions. In the reports he cites but doesn't link to (966 page PDF) the word 'students' appears for the first time on page 952. He says "government funding is down in real dollars but student income has replaced that income and more besides, so that institutional budgets are still increasing at inflation +1% per year...  given that compensation is 60% of the total budget, that’s still where the majority of the restraint needs to happen." Given that we're only spending inflation +1% per year I think the fact that "the proportion of adults aged 25 to 64 with tertiary education in Canada increased from 39% to 50%" (between 1999-2009) is a remarkable achievement. But I guess the business officers don't look at remarkable achievements, and increases in costs (but not government funding) are grounds only for restraint. Though maybe instead we could look at restoring government funding levels and givings students a break.

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