HESA

Higher Education Strategy Associates

January 20

Canada’s Income-Contingent Loan System

I see that yet another group has called for Canada to have an income-contingent Loan Program to help students fund their higher education studies.  Great idea.  In fact, it’s so great that the country adopted an income-contingent system five years ago. It’s just that nobody noticed.

Many people think that income-contingency requires that loan repayments be a fixed percentage of individual income, or that loan recovery be handled through the tax system.  While it’s true that some of the world’s more prominent examples of income-contingency (e.g. Australia, UK) have those features, those aren’t necessary characteristics of an income-contingent system.  All “income-contingent” means is that repayments to some degree reflect a borrower’s ability to repay.

Canada has had some element of income-contingency ever since the “Interest Relief” program was introduced in 1984.  Something of a misnomer, Interest Relief allowed unemployed borrowers in re-payment to suspend principal repayments for up to 18 months, during which time government would pay the interest on the loan.  The program was expanded in 1994 to include borrowers who were employed but had high debt service ratios.  In the 1998 Budget, the time limit went up to 30 (or in some cases 54) months.  That budget also announced a system whereby borrowers who didn’t quite meet the test for full interest-relief could get a partial subsidy – unfortunately, this system was never implemented, because the government, and the banks who administered the program at the time, couldn’t figure out how to make it work properly.  But the idea came back again in the 2008 Budget, with the introduction of RAP, which was basically the 1998 plan with some knobs added on.

So, like Australia and the UK, we have a system where borrowers with low-income pay nothing, and a system which phases in loan repayments gradually as borrowers begin to earn more money.  The only major difference between Canada and Australia/UK is that we say if you’re above a certain income level, you should be paying off a loan quickly under a normal system of amortization, whereas they say the hell with it, and just take a proportion of your income because it’s simpler to manage that way.

Why don’t we call it income-contingency?  Basically, it’s because no one wants to embarrass the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS).  For years, they insisted income-contingency was the work of Satan because in making loans easier to pay it paved the way for higher tuition fees (yes, really).  Yet, as the details of RAP were developed, they decided they quite liked it.  Since it’s rare CFS actually backs a government program, it was generally agreed that pointing out to them that that RAP was in fact income-contingency (which they still in theory strenuously oppose) would create unnecessary problems.

So there you go.  We have a reasonable student loan repayment system, which the main players like but no one else understands.  It’d be nice if we could find a way to communicate this to the country so we could stop with the inane demands for income-contingency, but c’est la vie.

January 17

Students Always Get Hurt

There’s a strike on at UNB.  I won’t get into the ins and outs of it because both sides have kept bargaining positions pretty close to their chests, and so it’s hard to say if one side or the other is being unreasonable.  The administration, presumably, will want to make sure that a wage settlement doesn’t entirely eat up all new revenue (which, as I showed back here, might well be the case).  Staff will presumably want wage increases similar to what colleagues elsewhere have received (even if it breaks the bank).  Both have a case.

I do, however, want to take this opportunity to get something off my chest about faculty strikes.  It’s this line that the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) and its members trot out come strike time about how they’re really doing it for the students, and that no harm will come to students because – and I’m quoting Jim Turk here – “no student in Canada has ever lost a semester or a year because of a faculty strike”.

What crap.

Setting the bar for whether or not a student has been hurt at, “whether they get to finish the semester” is ridiculous.  First of all, it’s wrong – lots of students lose a semester because they choose to drop-out instead of kicking their heels waiting for a settlement (ask Brandon how many students they lost during their 45-day faculty strike in 2011, or York about their 11-week contract faculty strike in 2009).  Second of all, students can suffer in all sorts of ways that doesn’t technically amount to losing a semester.  York students who lived through the 1997 faculty strike – which pushed the end of term back well into June – were harmed financially by being kept out of the labour market during the early summer months.  Vancouver Island University students, in 2011, didn’t lose time in the labour market, but they did lose a month’s worth of classes without a refund.  And Master’s students and final year undergraduates at UNB right now must be utterly beside themselves because they can’t get grad school recommendation letters from their profs.

More to the point though, this line is simply mendacious.  Nobody holds a strike in summer because the only thing profs are doing during that time  is research, and nobody cares if they withhold labour then.  Strikes happen in fall and winter precisely because they inconvenience students, in the hope that students (or their parents) will in turn put pressure on the university to settle.  There is no mystery about this.  Harming students is the point.  If it weren’t, we’d see strikes in the summer.  QED.

Let me be clear: collective bargaining and the right to withdraw labour are, to me, essential rights.  And I’m not in any way, shape, or form making an argument to ban or curtail strikes.  I’m just saying I’d respect faculty unions a lot more if they had the courage to be honest about their tactics and their consequences, instead of hiding behind a mound of untruthful sanctimony.

January 16

Canada’s Long-Awaited New Internationalization Strategy

It was released yesterday.  And it’s godawful.

It’s a thirty-page document, but minus the cover page, colophon, table of contents, introduction, twelve pages of fact sheets, and another four pages to describe previous consultations and provide global context, it’s really just ten.  Of these ten, roughly half describes initiatives the government has already undertaken, (existing scholarship programs, Mitacs funding, etc).  So, then, five pages, maybe.  Part of this is spent re-hashing lines about Canada’s “brilliant” reputation for international education – a claim which their own research says is utterly false (see: this previous post on DFAIT’s brand research).

In those five pages, the Government of Canada makes specific commitments to:

  • Spend $5 million to give Canada a re-brand.  And do a bunch of stuff already announced in the last budget
  • Consult regularly with stakeholders
  • Establish a Trade Commissioner presence within the Canadian Consortium on International Education to “co-ordinate efforts” (to what end is not stated)
  • Support an event management system to better co-ordinate events held by stakeholders.

That’s it.  That’s the entirety of the strategy’s commitments.  There are some additional words in there that talk about “developing the export of education know-how… by supporting marketing efforts of Canadian stakeholders”, but it’s all vague, meaningless guff.

Amazingly, the document sets no real goals for the government.  It sets targets for other people (e.g. doubling the number of foreign students by 2022), but that’s not the same thing.  There’s no rationale for such numbers as are in the strategy, and the activities in the strategy are not linked to intended outcomes in any way.  Similarly, although the document talks about focussing efforts on selected certain foreign markets, these markets turn out to be India, China, Brazil, the entire friggin’ Middle East/North Africa region, Mexico, and Vietnam.  The rationale for the last two are mysterious; the first four contain half the world’s population. That’s some focus.

Towards the end of the document, the government informs us gravely that it will be monitoring effectiveness, and putting performance measures in place – checking whether their “inputs” (spending 5 million bucks on a brand, and doing some consultations) are producing the appropriate “outputs” (265,000 more international students by 2022, a greater proportion of whom choose to stay here after studying).  When I say it is laughable, I am not using a figure of speech.  Honestly, I haven’t laughed so hard in weeks.

This “strategy”, if we can call it that, is without question the most thorough and comprehensive argument for why the Government of Canada should stay the hell out of higher education.  It is shallow.  It is abject.  It shows no sign of being the product of discussion with either the provinces, who are responsible for education in this country, or the colleges & universities who deliver it.  It does not articulate problems well.  It does not focus resources in a meaningful way, nor are the investments it lists in any way proportionate to what few goals it does set out.

In short, if one is left with any thought at all about this document, it is this:

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Canada, as a country, can and should do better than this.

January 15

The Listening Tour

There’s a little management technique gaining some traction called the “Listening Tour”.  In the US, over the past eighteen months, new Presidents at Carnegie Mellon and James Madison have used this to inaugurate their terms.  At Princeton, new President (and erstwhile Provost) Chris Eisgruber decided to embark on an entire “Year of Listening”, though why he needs a whole year when he’s been provost for the past nine is unclear.  Here at home, the pioneer of this is new Dalhousie President Richard Florizone, who began his term with “100 Days of Listening”.

It’s easy enough to see why listening tours are all the rage these days.  They combine a need in collegial organizations for Presidents to at least be seen to be inclusive in determining directions, with a certain management philosophy about the need for new leaders to size up their organizations’ strengths and weaknesses quickly in order to make big strategic decisions.  Michael Watkins’ book, The First 90 Daysis the most prominent of these; in Dal’s case they seem to have thrown in an extra 10 days to come up with something more Rooseveltian.

I haven’t paid a great deal of attention to the outcomes of the American listening tours, but the Dal one is interesting because Florizone has – unusually – gone and penned quite a lengthy document about his experience, which you can find here.

Now, listening tours at universities are all going to sound pretty similar: everyone wants to be more prestigious, be good at research and teaching (no choosing!), be more collegial, yadda yadda, all of which Florizone duly conveys.  On the basis of his listening, he makes some useful observations and commitments to improve Dal’s less-than-stellar reputation within the Halifax community, and its inclusiveness of the province’s African and Mik’Maq communities. (He is also – I think – a little too credulous about Dal’s research strength, but leave that aside for now.)

But Florizone also manages to slip some interesting data into his document – stuff he hasn’t so much heard as discovered via some intensive work with his institutional research shop.   Those are the most interesting bits of the document because they more directly reflect his thoughts: his observation that Dal has more programs per undergraduate student than any other U15 school, that its retention rates aren’t very good, that the pension plan’s still a bit of a mess, and that weak government financing and the demands of an aging infrastructure mean cost reductions are clearly going to be the order of the day.  Again, nothing shocking there, but  Florizone has done a nice job of folding some unpleasant realities into a “report on consultations”, in order to put them on the institution’s agenda.

Bernard Shapiro once said that University Presidents could either come in as Gorbachev or Deng.  The first type told everyone that everything had to change, which tended to raise opposition and nothing would get done.  The second type told everyone everything was going to be the same, but then managed to change everything anyway.  By the looks of it, Florizone is going Chinese on this one.

January 14

Student/Faculty Ratios Across Fields of Study

Here’s an intriguing question: what do student/faculty ratios look like across the academy?  No one ever publishes this number.  What you tend to get out of the Statscan data (with a little help from the excellent folks who put out the CAUT Almanac) is a graph of overall student/faculty ratios, such as the one below in Figure 1, which shows that across all institutions and all fields, there has been an increase of about 20% in the faculty/student ratio over the past twenty years.

Figure 1: University FTE Student/FT Faculty Ratio, Canada, 1992-3/2009-10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, everyone knows that these loads aren’t the same across the university, but data to prove this is scarce, mostly because Statscan in its wisdom divides fields of study differently when publishing data on student data, and data on profs.  However, if you’re prepared to put in a little time with the Classification of Instructional Programs, it’s possible to see how student faculty ratios differ by field of study.  To wit:

Table 1: FTE Students: FT Faculty, Canada, 2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ok, now those are some pretty stunning numbers, which at face value imply vastly different workloads across the institution.  But workloads can be equalized through the use of adjuncts, temporary staff, etc.  Business faculties – which have crazy-high ratios – use a lot of adjuncts, and with good reason: it’s an applied discipline, and there is a lot of value in having practitioners (i.e. non TT-faculty) teach.  Conversely, there aren’t a lot of Math PhDs in the private sector available for the odd course here and there.  And of course, expectations for publication can differ significantly from one field to another.  So let’s not get too excited about raw differences in student/faculty ratios.

But maybe we can get excited about changes in ratios, which may indicate some kinds of changes in who gets resources in the academy. What we find, though, is the following:

Figure 3: Changes in FTE Student/FT Professor ratios, Canada, 1992 = 100

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s a messy graph, so let’s break it down.  Student-Faculty ratios in Fine Arts have gone through the roof – mostly because it’s the only field of study that has had a net loss in professors over the past twenty years.  Humanities ratios are also up close to 50%, but this is due less to inadequate hiring in humanities (though that is a factor) than it is to a significant rise in enrolments.

Not all fields show falling ratios, too. Health shows a huge fall in ratios in 2009-10 for reasons that are a bit mysterious (Statscan seems to think there was a 40% jump in the number of Health faculty that year, which seems unlikely).  But check out the numbers for math/computer science.  In the run-up to the dot-com boom, student/faculty numbers soared; in the aftermath, they plummeted.  Overall, FTE enrolments are now back to where they were in 1998 or so, but we have 700 more profs in the field than we did back then.

A cautionary tale, perhaps, for those who want universities to slavishly follow the latest job market trends.

January 13

Africa: A Wrong Turn in Higher Ed Policy

One of the policy fads sweeping Africa right now is the idea that all teaching staff should possess PhDs.  It’s now policy in Nigeria, and a number of other countries.  I’m not sure where this policy priority came from, but it’s a terrible idea, diverting resources away from where they’re most needed at a time when the system is straining under the weight of ever-growing demand.

“Wait a minute”, I hear you say.  “Who can be against having more qualified teachers?  Why not have a higher entrance standard for new faculty?”  If only it were that simple.

The key here is to understand how the higher education hiring process actually works in developing countries.  In the west, individuals go about the business of becoming PhDs on their own, finding funding from various sources as necessary/possible.  Universities then take their pick of candidates who have managed to get that far.  This means universities almost entirely externalize the cost of training their academic workforce.

In Africa, where PhD programs are thin on the ground, it usually doesn’t work that way. There aren’t a lot of young scholars there who have the money and academic capital to make it into, and through, the western graduate school system, and of those that do, a fair few will stay in the west to earn higher pay.  So what’s an African university to do?

The answer is that potential “faculty” are often identified at the Master’s or even Bachelor’s level, and given jobs as lecturers (in countries like Uganda, a rather high proportion of lecturers have no qualification above a Bachelor’s degree).  Over time, the university pays them to get higher qualifications. Until fairly recently that meant Master’s Degrees; now it means Doctoral degrees.  So, when an African policy-maker says, “let’s make sure everyone has a PhD”, what he/she is really saying is: “let’s saddle institutions with higher staff development costs”.

(Institutions of course don’t always mind this; more PhDs means more prestige, and for the individual involved it’s an unmitigated bonus.)

But these higher staff costs have implications.  In sub-Saharan Africa, where per-student expenditures run between $1500-$2000 per year, spending $20K/year or more training one staff person up to PhD level is a significant sacrifice.  Making it a policy to do this for as many staff as possible, so that every faculty member can have a PhD, is a policy that will likely end up inhibiting access at public institutions in the short-term.

Of course, African universities aren’t wrong to want to upgrade their staff; it’s just that a little perspective on how quickly they need to do it – and the trade-offs it entails – need to be taken into account.  Significantly, China, India, and Latin America are a long way from the 100% line African universities are chasing, and none of them are making it anything like the priority it is in Africa.  Ultimately, this begs the question: why should the world’s poorest-funded universities adopt the world’s most expensive staff development policies?

January 10

Better Know a Higher Ed System: Chile

Chile has a very diverse higher education sector, and has been subject to a lot of policy experimentation in recent years.  That makes it a case to watch, both regionally and globally.

Prior to the 1973 coup, Universidad de Chile was the country’s pre-eminent school, with campuses across the country.  But academia didn’t fare so well under Pinochet, as there were waves of arrests, exiles, and, in some cases, executions.  All of this meant that, on occasion, whole departments suddenly vanished.  U de Chile was subsequently split into a dozen smaller institutions, most becoming independent – but less powerful – public universities in their own right.

By the end of the military regime, there were 25 “state-sponsored” universities – 16 public and 9 private (mainly Catholic), which are usually referred to as the “CRUCH” universities (pronounced croossh (it’s an acronym for the Council of Rectors), all funded through a mixture of public funding and student fees (more the latter than the former).  None were really what you’d call a research university – Latin America historically has never really had many of those – but it had the usual prestige hierarchy, with the two oldest universities, Universidad de Chile and Pontifical Universidad Catolica de Chile, at the top.

But the key Pinochet-era decision was to open the higher education market to private competition.  The result was the creation, over three decades, of 35 new, fully-privately funded universities.  Few are considered anything like the equal of the older universities, academically.  Partly, that’s like private universities almost everywhere, as they tend to avoid offering programs in prestigious but capital-intensive subjects like Engineering, Science, and Medicine; but mostly it’s because a lot of them are for-profit, and are therefore seen as suspect.

Chile’s sub-baccalaureate system – 45 Institution Profesional (essentially, polytechnics) and 68 CFTs (essentially, community colleges) is entirely privately-run, the only country in the world where this is so.  The existence of these institutions is an irritant to CRUCH universities, who have responded by using their influence in the accreditation system to (essentially) impose accreditation criteria designed for universities on community colleges.  Result?  Only 2.2% of CFT programs are actually accredited.

What’s distinctive about Chile is the diversity of its funding channels.  There’s a public subsidy for the CRUCH universities, which is mostly historic rather than formula-driven, and a different, voucher-ish public subsidy for private universities able to attract students with high scores on the national university-entrance exam.  There’s one student loans program for CRUCH universities, and another, much less subsidized, program for everyone else.  Add in some half-hearted attempts at performance-contract funding, a dozen or so bursary programs for various target groups – plus, of course, the fact that as a percentage of GDP, Chile’s private contributions to higher education are among the highest in the world (nearly 1.5% of GDP), and you can see why the policy environment is fairly chaotic.

Now, add into all this the fact that President-elect Bachelet has promised to make all education free.  What does that mean in a system which is 70% + private?  No one knows.

Stay tuned.  This will get interesting.

January 09

The Salaries Problem

I’ve made a few key points over the last couple of days:

1)      Canadian Universities will be lucky if they keep being able to increase their incomes by 3% per year, holding enrolments constant.

2)      The kinds of salary settlements we have seen recently at Canadian universities, if allowed to continue, will eat up easily 70-80% of that income, maybe more, leaving precious little left over for IT, infrastructure, etc.

3)      It’s not a problem of administrative bloat.  The ratio of academic salaries to non-academic ones hasn’t changed in over a decade.

To put it bluntly, this isn’t sustainable.  Things have to change.

Could the solution be on the revenue side?  Certainly, that’s part of the current problem.  Over the past two years, things have been pretty dire for higher education, with institutions only receiving about 0.45% per year in government funding increases.  That might improve a bit in some provinces over the next year or two, but my guess would be that both Ontario and Quebec will see significant cuts in the 2015 budget cycle, once they’ve both had elections.  So that’s not in the cards.

Ask students to pay more?  That would make oodles of sense in many places (especially Alberta, BC, and Quebec), but it’s a tough sell in a recession.  To the extent this is possible, it will be for professional Master’s programs, which are going to spread like mushrooms.

Admit more students?  Well, that would work in some places, but not east of the Ottawa River, where things are drying up.  International students are always a very viable alternative, though it’s not clear that every institution is equally suited to acting (as Brad DeLong recently wrote in a delightfully bitchy post about the University of California) as finishing schools for the superrich of Asia.

That leaves expenditure – the largest and fastest-rising bit of which is salaries.  And here there are only three options: cut jobs, cut salaries, or some combination of the two.  Tenure limits institutions’ ability to do the former (to academics, at least), so that suggests that restraint on the salary side is where the action is going to have to be.

It’s not even a matter of cutting salaries.  It’s about getting the rate of salary increase back down to where it historically was for most of the 70s, 80s and 90s.  The 2000s saw an historically unprecedented rise in professorial salaries, as shown by Figure 1:

Figure 1: Median Academic Salaries, Canada Real $2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More relevant for university finances was the fact that average salaries were increasing even faster than the median during the 2000s – 18% in real dollars vs. 11% for the median.

Figure 2: Average Academic Salaries, 2001-2 and 2009-10, in Real $2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You know the good old days everyone talks about?  Maybe they were good precisely because salaries weren’t cannibalizing the rest of the budget.  Something to think about, anyway.

January 08

Administrative Bloat?

If there’s one common complaint among academic staff it’s that non-academic staff… administrators… are multiplying like weeds, and taking over the university.  Of course, no one can tell if this is actually happening because Canadian universities have never bothered to put together any common statistics on non-academic staff.

What we do have, though, is data on non-academic staff compensation – that is, we can see how much non-academic staff were paid in any given year, and track that over time.  We can then compare that to how much money was spent on academics.  These changes in compensation ratios are a reasonable indicator of changes in staffing levels, even if we don’t know exactly how many people are employed in these positions.

Going back to 1979, the ratio of academic to non-academic staff compensation looks like this:

Figure 1: Ratio of Academic to Non-Academic Staff Compensation, 1979-2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: CAUBO/Statscan Financial Information of Universities and Colleges Survey

What Figure 1 means is that, whereas in 1979, total academic salary mass was 17% higher than non-academic salary mass, by 2011, it was 7% lower.  Interestingly, there’s actually been no change at all in the past decade: the ratios have remained essentially stable since about 2000.  Before that, they fell gradually for about 20 years (the apparent huge fall in 1999 was the result of a change in the survey that – as I understand it – brought academic salary mass more fully into the picture, which obviously would have a negative effect on these ratios.  So in fact, about a third of the change seen here is actually just the result of a series break).

Of course, averages are one thing – but they can hide a heck of a lot of variation between institutions.  Here’s the distribution of non-academic to academic salary masses for 2011, across all institutions:

Figure 2: Distribution of Academic : Non-Academic Salary Mass Ratios by Institution, 2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: CAUBO/Statscan Financial Information of Universities and Colleges Survey

In fact, a majority of institutions still have ratios above 1.0 (meaning they spend more on academic staff than on non-academic staff); it’s just that some of the country’s biggest institutions have ratios below 0.9, and they drag the average down considerably.

But that’s still not quite the whole story.  Take a look at the top and bottom ten institutions on this measure:

Table 1: Top and Bottom Ten Institutions Based on Academic : Non-Academic Staff Salary Mass Ratios

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: CAUBO/Statscan Financial Information of Universities and Colleges Survey

Looking at the left-hand column, the secret to spending less on non-academic staff seems simple: just be a small institution with no major science programs (Sherbrooke is an anomaly).  That makes intuitive sense if your hypothesis is that the big contributor to the growth in non-academic salaries is the growth of universities’ research function.  The problem is, a lot of very similar universities are also in the right-hand column.  Ste. Anne and Emily Carr are practically identical to St. Boniface and OCAD – so why the enormous differences?  Royal Roads’ and TELUQ’s low ratios are easy to understand because of their reliance on IT – so too is Toronto, with its enormous research overheads.  But ENAP?  Trinity Western?  What’s going on there?

The answer is, we don’t know.  Much of the U-15 universities tend to cluster between .95-.75 on this measure, but apart from that, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of rhyme or reason to how much institutions spend on academics vs. non-academics.  And yet it has a pretty big effect on institutions’ bottom lines.  It’s a puzzle worth trying to solve.

January 07

How Universities Are Becoming More Labour-Intensive

Yesterday, I showed how universities in New Brunswick were – despite welcome new promises of stable funding from the provincial government – facing problems because salary increases were going to eat all the available new money.  Some of you possibly thought I was being alarmist.  But it’s easy enough to show how this can happen.  In Ontario, it already has.

For data here, I pulled the financial statements for the last five years at the “Big 8” (Toronto, Waterloo, Western, Queens, Guelph, York, Ottawa, and McMaster), which comprise about 75% of all university spending, and hence are a pretty good proxy for the university system as a whole.  It’s not as good as Stastcan data; but, on the other hand, it gives me something past 2011, which is the most recently-available Statistics Canada/CAUBO report.  And here is what it shows:

Figure 1: Total and Salaries/Benefits Expenditures, 8 Largest Ontario Universities, 2009-2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Expenditures at these institutions rose from $7.4 billion in 2009 to $8.6 billion in 2012, before falling back to $8.45 billion in 2013.  That’s a 14% nominal increase, which is about 6% after inflation – not bad.  Meanwhile, salaries and benefits rose from being 59% of overall budgets to being 63% of overall budgets.

Now that doesn’t sound so bad, either.  But let’s look at the same data another way:

Figure 2: Increases in Total and Salaries/Benefits Expenditures, 8 Largest Ontario Universities, 2009-2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This looks considerably less good, doesn’t it?  As new money has come in and permitted higher spending, salaries and benefits have eaten fully 92% of the increase.  This, friends, is the consequence of increasing salary mass by 5% per year, when income is only growing at 3%.

And the consequences for the rest of the budget?  After salary increases, the Ontario 8 only had $83 million to put into non-salary areas.  On a base of about $3 billion, that’s an increase of about 3%, but after inflation, that’s actually a 4% reduction, i.e., a fall of about 1% per year.  And of course much of that money is earmarked for things like research, so in terms of disposable income, it’s likely that the figure is actually much higher.

Outside Ontario, we don’t see quite the same pattern.  I pulled 7 other comparable institutions (UBC, Alberta, Calgary, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, McGill, and Dalhousie) and found that on the whole they spent a greater proportion of their money on salaries (66% in 2013, compared to 63% in Ontario), but that there was no sudden change in the way money was spent (only 67% of new expenditure went to salaries, meaning the average went unchanged).  That said, there were differences inside this group.  Most actually managed to decrease their salary-to-total expenditure ratios; the two exceptions were Alberta (where salaries took 86% of all new expenditure) and McGill (where they took an astounding 179% of new expenditures).

For a set of institutions that endlessly bang-on about how hi-tech they are, Ontario universities are apparently one of the very few industries in the provinces that are becoming more labour intensive over time.  And that won’t change until compensation increases start coming into line with increases in income.

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