Revisiting Ontario College and University Revenue Data

Research Summary:

Revisiting Ontario College and University Revenue Data, prepared by Snowdon & Associates, aims to provide a dependable estimate of inflation-adjusted revenue per full-time equivalent student at Ontario’s colleges and universities.

Using the Higher Education Price Index (HEPI) as a measure of inflation, the report finds that the application of the HEPI to funding per university student results in a 27 per cent decrease in real funding relative to 1980, with a levelling off in recent years due to the Reaching Higher investments; the application of the HEPI to funding per college student shows a 20 per cent decrease in real funding per student relative to the mid-1990s, followed by funding increases since 2003.

The application of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) to funding per university student results in only a 7 per cent decrease in real per student funding with major decreases taking place in the mid 1990s; the application of the CPI to funding per college student shows a 9 per cent decrease only, followed again by funding increases since 2003.

These measures both show that funding in constant dollars per full-time equivalent student has decreased relative to 1980 and 1990 taking into account the unique inflationary pressures associated with institutional operations.

The report also comments on key revenue sources at Ontario’s universities and changes to funding sources and mechanisms that have affected institutional costs and contributed to financial pressures.

About the Authors:

Ken Snowdon, the principal for the project, is President of Snowdon & Associates and has over 30 years of experience and recognized expertise in the postsecondary education sector. Ken brings hands-on experience at the institutional level and ‘system’ level, and has prepared a number of research papers on the topic of postsecondary finance.

Glenda Kaye is a Chartered Accountant and brings years of experience in public sector accounting and financial reporting to the project. In addition to in-depth knowledge of financial management garnered during her lengthy experience at Queen’s University, Glenda was directly involved in the design and implementation of major reporting changes in Ontario universities through the Council of Finance Officers – Universities of Ontario (COFO-UO) and through the Financial Reporting Committee of the Canadian Association of University Business Officers (FRC-CAUBO).

Herb O’Heron is the Senior Advisor at the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC) and recognized as one of Canada’s foremost experts on postsecondary finance and postsecondary enrolment. Over the last few years, Herb has been particularly active in studying and projecting enrolment trends and their impact on the physical, human, and financial resources needed on university campuses to respond to changing student demand.

Dr. Greg Moran has served in a variety of academic leadership capacities at the University of Western Ontario, including Chair of the Department of Psychology, Deanof Graduate Studies, and Provost and Vice-President (Academic) for the ten years ending in 2005. For six years, Greg also served as Chair of the Ontario Council of Academic Vice-Presidents, and has been actively involved in a variety of provincial and national organizations. In recent years, he has acted as a consultant to a number of Canadian universities, the Council of Ontario Universities (COU), and the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO). Most recently, Greg was appointed a member of the Campus Alberta Quality Council. Greg’s primary role for this report has been to provide insight into the impact of funding changes on institutional decision making. ​