The Ontario government recently announced that it has signed historic agreements with public colleges and universities that will revolutionize the province’s public post-secondary educational institutions. The move will help students get the education, skills and experience they need to find good jobs by ensuring post-secondary institutions offer programs that align with labour market demands, officials said.

“Our government believes in making institutions accountable for student success,” said Ross Romano, Minister of Colleges and Universities. “That’s why we are making sure Ontario’s publicly-assisted post-secondary institutions have a clear mandate that is focused on meeting the needs of students and equipping them to succeed in rewarding careers.”

The agreements, which are in effect from 2020-2025 introduce a new ‘made-in-Ontario‘ performance-based funding model that places a higher weighting on student and economic outcomes. By tying a portion of government funding to performance, Ontario is encouraging institutions to focus on their institutional strengths, to ensure that students and graduates have the real-world skills they need for rewarding careers, according to a media statement from the premier’s office.

The government will measure performance against a set of 10 metrics. Six of the metrics are classified as skills and jobs outcome and the other four as economic and community impact. Institutions will report on indicators such as graduate employment rates in related fields, experiential learning and graduate earnings.

“Placing a greater emphasis on outcomes will encourage colleges and universities to be more efficient and specialized, and to focus on what they do best,” said Minister Romano. “The new agreements will also encourage transparency and accountability by ensuring that the spending of public dollars results in positive economic outcomes for Ontario.”

Recognizing that COVID-19 has caused challenges throughout the post-secondary sector, the government has decided to delay the link of institutions funding to the performance metrics for two years (2020-21 and 2021-22). All other aspects of the agreements, including data collection, evaluation and publication, will continue as planned.

Until now, college and university operating fund has been based on enrolment, with only a little more than one per cent tied to performance.

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