Fanshawe’s Program Costing Report for 2017-18 was released through a Freedom of Information request, and the results were astounding. Not only is Fanshawe running a profit, but they now have a 42.3 per cent contribution to overhead.
“Contribution to overhead is expressed as a percentage, if the program had a 50 per cent contribution to overhead, what that basically means is that 50 cents of every tuition dollar would go towards the faculty, sports, staff, the chair, the program manager, the things associated with that academic program, and then 50 cents would go towards the general operations of the college. Keeping the lights on, keeping the building heated, marketing the college, and so on. It’s an interesting measure because you can see how much is actually going up towards the program, and how much is going to overhead. If you’re operating a public not-for-profit service, you want to make sure that as much money as possible is going towards the actual service,” said Darryl Bedford, President of OPSEU LOCAL 110.
“What we’ve observed over time is that the contribution to overhead has gone from 18-19 per cent thirty years ago, to about 42 per cent today, and over time it just seems to go up and up and up and what it would suggest is that more of the money should be staying in the academic areas and towards service for students. It is something that we are concerned with,” Bedford adds.
Currently an acceptable contribution to overhead percentage is about 20-30 per cent. Bedford believes that Fanshawe should not be sitting on the money or investing in elaborate new buildings or programs. Instead Bedford believes that the money should go into upgrading the services that directly affect students.
“(The college) could hire more full-time faculty, they could hire more support staff, they can purchase new equipment, they can upgrade labs for students.” Bedford adds, “there’s a lot of things that can be done as opposed to accumulating surpluses.” Bedford believes that freezing the increase in tuition rates would help students but might be unrealistic.
Bedford says the Liberal government forced colleges to properly compensate educators under the equal pay for equal work initiative and even after proper wages, Fanshawe still has a projected overhead cost of over $17 million dollars. Bedford fears that if the Ford government steps in and removes the pay initiatives, instead of investing in paying educators, Fanshawe will run an even higher overhead cost percentage.
“Of course the college can’t run a deficit,” said Bedford. Adding that the surplus is not the problem, but rather the high percentage and the allocation of funds. “When the majority (of the money) came from students, let’s make sure it goes back into education for students.”