Over time, the issue of loans and finances regarding students in higher education institutions has aroused many opinions among the shareholders. The result is controversial opinions on the same and as a result little or no change is made regarding the issues surrounding this topic. An article by Marc Spooner from the University of Regina termed Education Review: Performance-Based Funding in Higher Education (2019) analyzes what the future looks like if most financial aid institutions implement their plan. This plan is funding post-secondary institutions based on their performance.
In Spooner’s article, he analyzes Ontario’s plan and Alberta’s plan as overviews of the plans likely to be implemented by states planning to incorporate the idea. He starts with Ontario’s plan, which aims to tie 60% of the funds allocated to institutions to their performance on around ten metrics by 2024. Six out of these ten metrics are related to job outcomes, while the other four are related to the impact on the economy. Spooner then examines Alberta’s plan, which is less developed. This plan intends to allocate funding based on the economic impact, the labor market, and research and technology commercialization.
This article also highlights how the implementation of plans such as those mentioned above affects the academic freedom that has already been established. This is because of the pressure that will result in the administrators of financial institutions and then the students changing their perspective of how performance is measured in such institutions. The article gives an example of the misapplication of accountancy any time the government criteria are used in research and the skewed representations. This compromises what institutions aim to achieve, producing well-rounded individuals who can serve their community and their nation well.
For many students, taking out student loans to pay for post-secondary education is a bad idea since they don’t pay it back on time. This is sometimes not the fault of these students many of them do not even get employed or even if they do, they do not make enough to support themselves let alone pay back loans. This is because the ones getting the financial aid are the ones more likely to get a well-paying job and hence pay back the loans. The article goes ahead and analyzes what it took for such a decision to be made notwithstanding the lack of support from the students and the higher education institutions. The article gives a statistical analysis of how much this is likely to benefit the government and financial aid institutions.
The last part of the article is termed ‘What can be done?’ This aims to make the institutions in question understand that implementing this policy will only lead to division among universities as they will be classified as either winners or losers. One of the ways of making them understand this is through academic staff associations working closely with the administrators in universities and the boards of governors. This way, they can communicate their needs through one voice.
Analysis of the Article
This article highlights the future of students in financial institutions and the institutions themselves. To analyze what the future is likely to look like, it considers one of the plans that is being implemented to change how the situations are today. The plan being considered in this case is that of funding institutions based on their level of performance. That means that post-secondary institutions that release most of their graduates into industries in high demand will receive better funding than those that release fewer numbers of their graduates into such industries.
The author does not agree with the method of allocating funds to institutions based on performance as he sees it only to be beneficial to financial aid institutions and not the students and the universities. This is vividly seen when he says that this will only lead to the division of universities between winners and losers. Spooner also mentions that the methods used by the government in measuring performance are not effective. Further, he provides an example of statistics attained from research on teaching, which gave more questions than answers. This proves that he does not agree with this plan as it can only do more harm than good.
The method of statistical analysis he uses gives a deeper understanding of the impact that the implementation of this plan will have. The author considers numbers from 2010 in over a dozen countries where this has been considered. From this data, he establishes that the audit alone is enough to be a distant early warning to states planning to implement this in their education system. This method was effective since it gives a more visual understanding of the outcomes that are likely to arise.
Spooner also made use of the method of interviewing to prove his point. He involved academics from three universities in three different countries (New Zealand, Australia, and the United Kingdom) and conducted five hundred interviews. This was effective as they were all of the same opinions that this method could lead to devastating results. Further proving that the issue in question does not just concern students from a few institutions but that it is a matter of global concern.
Only two questions come to mind after reading and understanding the article. Is this an issue affecting just European countries? What is the likely outcome if this plan is to be implemented? The questions are based on the examples given by the author as he only provides an example of European countries while there are institutions of higher learning all over the world with the same issues. Spooner also highlights what can be done so that this plan is not implemented but does not take into consideration what must be done if his goal is not achieved as the chances are there. Answering these questions in his article will give the target audience a more realistic view of the issue at hand.
The connection between the Article and the Audience
Judging from the statements in this article, Spooner was targeting the article to the government and financial aid institutions. He was aiming to give them the view of a beneficiary of higher education concerning allocating finances based on performance. He thinks that by considering this plan, the government does not have the interests of the students and the post-secondary institutions at heart. The government only considers how the plan will lead to better repayment of the loans, which is a shallow way of viewing the situation. Therefore, Spooner was aiming to give the government a better understanding of what direct impact this may have on him as a beneficiary of higher education and has precisely achieved that.
Spooner, M. (2019). University of Regina. Performance based funding in higher education. CAUT Education Review. www.caut.ca