NOVEMBER 28, 2022

WINNIPEG, MB – Despite many warning calls from students, educators and professionals, the Manitoba provincial government is seeking to continue the implementation of new funding metrics which align with a performance-based funding (PBF) model for post-secondary education institutions. The Manitoba provincial government is seeking to adopt a model which aims to maximize profit rather than student success. Throughout past few years, the Post-Secondary Accountability Framework (PSAF) has been in development as a response following the recommendations in the 2020 report of the Office of the Auditor General concerning post-secondary institutions in Manitoba. The overall goal of the PSAF is to increase accountability for post-secondary institutions in Manitoba which are directly government funded. The PSAF is expected to be implemented during the 2023-2024 academic year. 

UMSU recognizes the Post-Secondary Accountability Framework model as an opportunity for the government to re-introduce Performance Based funding, as seen in Bill 33, which looks to evaluate university, college and polytechnic operating budgets based on certain metrics that are determined by the government. These metrics will negatively impact education in a variety of ways but, mostly, through rendering higher education inaccessible to marginalized communities and those with increased accessibility support needs. Performance-Based Funding harms all students, but is especially damaging to BIPOC and neurodivergent learners. 

Over the past several months, through reading provincial government briefings and press releases on the PSAF, participating in consultation sessions and discussing this matter with students and administrators alike, UMSU has taken notice of the fact that the so-called “consultation” efforts by the Manitoba government are less of an opportunity to craft new policy through discussion with those it will impact most, but a presentation of the government’s plans. These plans go against the guidance about performance-based funding that have been presented by the community at large.

Many of the groups that have consulted with the Manitoba government and the Honourable Minister of Advanced Education have been steadfast in voicing their aversion and disapproval of PBF & the PSAF. However, the government has largely ignored these concerns and opinions, and fail to acknowledge the growing discontent with a performance-based funding model. 

The Post-Secondary Accountability Framework is a harmful funding model that has the potential to severely damage the state of post-secondary education in our province. Performance-based funding metrics should be avoided at all costs, and any attempts to evaluate the efficiency of a post-secondary institution based on metrics of student success and job security post-graduation, enrolment rates, or otherwise, are completely inappropriate and the first step in the privatization and defunding of post-secondary education. These metrics are often inherently classist, ableist, racist, or contain other biases against individual learners. 

One example of how this will harm marginalized learners is how PBF incentivizes the act of ‘creaming,’ when administrators are encouraged to make admission criteria more selective to favour students with a higher probability of graduating on time. This is due, in large part, to funding being tied to graduation rates. ‘Creaming’ is likely to result in a less diverse student body, with fewer racialized and lower-income students. It removes the premise of opportunity from post-secondary institutions and replaces it with intense, aggressive competition.

Funding for post-secondary institutions is most effective when based on a system of bonuses and increased resources for institutions, not cuts. Education is a pillar of our society, and it should be free from concerns of profit margins. Education should be public and accessible. The Manitoba provincial government has a responsibility to support the institutions which cultivate the policymakers, leaders, change-makers and visionaries of tomorrow, and a duty to ensure that marginalized people and communities are privy to these educational institutions as well. The Post-Secondary Accountability Framework is a direct violation of that responsibility and would bring harm to those who are most vulnerable. The PSAF is a funding model that, if implemented, could have devastating consequences on the viability, accessibility, affordability and quality of post-secondary education in Manitoba. 

UMSU strongly opposes performance-based funding (PBF) in all forms, whether it be through the Post-Secondary Accountability Framework (PSAF) or any other systemic change to higher education in our province and we will continue to fight against this funding model. 

Victoria Romero
Vice President Advocacy