Data Check: The arithmetic behind Ontario’s declining university quality

Posted on September 21, 2010 in Education Debates

Source: — Authors: – OCUFA Report, Vol. 4, Issue 4 – As the saying goes, “Follow the money.” Or in this case the lack of money.
September 21, 2010.

More than half the Ontario faculty and librarians surveyed this year reported the quality of education at their institutions had declined in the last year. As many reported teaching larger classes than the previous year, and half reported that courses and programs had been eliminated.

Here’s the math behind the survey results.

In 1990, Ontario universities enjoyed a ratio of one faculty members for every 18 students, which is just a shade below the average student faculty ratio of 19 to 1 in the rest of Canada, today.

And where is Ontario? Dead last in the country, with a ratio of 26 students for every faculty member. And we are dead last by a lot. Our closest competitor for being tail-end Charlie is Quebec, with a ratio of 21 to 1. Meantime, in British Columbia, it’s 18 to 1 and in Newfoundland, 17 to 1.

As the saying goes, “Follow the money.” Or in this case the lack of money.

Among Canadian provinces, Ontario ranks last or near the bottom in university spending.  Ranking, again, dead last, Ontario invests about $250 per capita yearly in the province’s universities, while other Canadians average about $300.

Ontario government funding for university operating expenses amounted to 0.56 per cent of the province’s GDP, in 2008-2009, compared to 0.62 per cent for Canada and ranking ninth of all the provinces.

The arithmetic of under-funding is relentless: result: larger classes, fewer courses and programs, less essay writing, more multiple choice, less time for students to meet with faculty.

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