Two provinces were set to start using performance measures to adjust funding levels to universities this year. The first was Ontario, the second, our own province of Alberta. As with most conservative ideas, these metrics were largely tied to economic performance, specifically the economic performance of graduates, with conservative pundits claiming they’re merely trying to ensure that taxes are being spent wisely.
Then the pandemic occurred, businesses were closed, and millions of people have been required to leave their employment, many of whom rightly wonder if they’ll have jobs to go back to once we open up society again. This has made it blindingly obvious that the economic performance of graduates may not be entirely, or even in any significant fashion, a result of the education they gain in post-secondary.
Ontario has wisely decided to back away from performance metrics at this point, simply because if they tried to use them, the real purpose of them to reduce funding to education would become clear. While it isn’t clear when, or if, they might be brought back, one university document suggests they are not expected before 2021 at this point.
Alberta, as yet, hasn’t made any public announcements about what metrics will be in place, but has remained firm that they will start to be applied as of April 1, to ensure that they are able to reduce post-secondary funding by the start of the new school year, and, more importantly to them, their next budget. It should be noted that the Alberta metrics contain no positive upside for post-secondary institutions. If they perform exceedingly well, beating their goals by a large margin, the system, set up without any significant consultation of universities or students, will not reward that institution with more money. All that can happen under these measures is that the institution, and hence the students, lose money, opportunities, and education quality, based on statistics that they might have little or no control over.
If you’re a student in Alberta, I urge you to write to your MLA, to the minister of Advanced Education, Demetrios Nicolaides, or to the Premier, Jason Kenney, about the foolhardiness of implementing performance metrics—red-tape that will only cause post-secondary institutions to hire more administrators to figure out how to game the system, and force the government, in turn, to hire more auditors to try to catch the institutions that are doing so.
When you’re done that, come back here and check out our feature article, an interview with fellow student, now VPFA of AUSU, Monique Durette. Also this week, we look at how the transition of education from in person to online has been being handled across the country, as well as noting a few of the challenges and responses that various provinces have been dealing with. Plus, if the lockdown has you feeling bored, the Fly on the Wall wants to give you some thoughts on how you might just need to change your perspective.