New college funding formula revealed

No change in core funding for the next three years

By 2020-21, a new college funding formula will be in full swing, as the 24 public colleges in Ontario continue to work with the government to plan how to finance core academic operations.

Mark Nesbitt, vice-president of corporate services at George Brown College (GBC), presented the new funding formula at the college council meeting on Feb. 16.

According to the presentation documents, the new formula will introduce a funding “corridor” that will see domestic grant funding from the province set at a fixed rate based on the average domestic enrolment from the 2015-16, 16-17, and 17-18 school years.

Once that funding is set in 2019-20, it will remain stable, even if domestic student enrolment increases by up to 3 per cent or falls by less than 7 per cent.

“Colleges can look forward to more predictable and stable funding, even as enrolment fluctuates or declines in some communities as a result of demographic shifts that are beyond our control,” wrote Tanya Blazina, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development, in an email to The Dialog.

The council meeting revealed that GBC will receive around $108 million for core academic operations for the 2017-18 school year.

The overall level of funding likely won’t change much. But the new formula will get rid of the small amount of funding that was attached to key performance indicators and instead allocates 5 per cent of core funding in a new “differentiation envelope.”

Nesbitt said the new formula shouldn’t have any impact on students, but the college must figure out how to cover costs like wage inflation and hydro.

The presentation document outlined that the differentiation envelope will be based on the new Strategic Mandate Agreements (SMA) currently being negotiated between the colleges and the ministry.

The document said SMAs will weigh student experience, innovation in teaching and learning, access and equity, applied research and economic and community development.

“In the coming months, the college will negotiate the mandate agreement with the province,” said Nesbitt. “We need to pick through what’s the right mix, so far, those choices haven’t been voiced yet.”

Blazina said that the SMAs, “will allocate a portion of their funding based on a college’s unique strengths and their ability to deliver even more positive outcomes for students.”

Moving forward, Nesbitt said that the college has opportunities to adopt better IT systems as a self-service option. Meanwhile, collaborations between the different programs like sharing classroom space are also in the college’s future.

“We often don’t have as much as money as we wish we had for activities and staff,” said Nesbitt. “That’s just budgeting reality, that’s just the that world we live in.”

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New college funding formula revealed