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Students, faculty oppose performance-based funding for post-secondary institutions in Canada

(Ottawa – June 23, 2021) The Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) and the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) are calling on provincial governments to suspend the current plans on the introduction of performance-based funding for universities and listen to the students and faculty concerns regarding the proposed system.

On June 16, CFS’s National Graduate Caucus and CAUT hosted a panel discussion on performance-based funding models in post-secondary education and their impacts on students and faculty. Panelists made it clear that the introduction of performance-based metrics for post-secondary institutions is a retrograde step for the sector and reduces the independence of institutions and the quality of programs offered to students.

“It’s not about accountability—this is about retooling the traditional mission of the university,” said Marc Spooner, professor at the University of Regina. “Let’s dispel any myth that universities have any control over the metrics. All performance-based funding does is turn the university into an entrepreneurial university. It is incentivizing the university to take in students with the highest social capital and the most probability of getting employed.”

“The heart of the problem lies in the inequalities in our societies, whether it is race, class, gender,” said Rudy Fichtenbaum, professor at Wright State University and past president of the American Association of University Professors. “We need to deal with the problem of inequality in education before kids even get to university.”

“Performance-based funding reduces the overall quality of education,” said Wesam AbdElhamid Mohamed, Deputy Chairperson of the CFS. “We’ve seen students, faculty and administrators all agree performance-based funding is harmful.”

Speakers agreed that collective action is required to push back against performance-based funding.

The Canadian Federation of Students is the largest student organization in the country, representing over 530,000 college and university students, and advocates for affordable, high-quality post-secondary education. The Canadian Association of University Teachers is the national voice for academic staff representing 72,000 teachers, librarians, researchers, general staff and other academic professionals at some 125 universities and colleges across the country.