One of the most common questions students have for me – particularly when they see tuition fees increasing – is, “Where does my tuition go?” And “Why does it keep going up?”
Students often want to see a direct connection between fee increases and the quality of their education. Fair enough. I want to know the same thing from the City when my property taxes increase, or when I have to pay more to use the TTC (will the woeful Christie bus come any more frequently?!?)
I had this handy little visualization created for you to illustrate OCAD University’s revenue sources and major expenditure categories. This was done a couple of years ago, so the precise revenue and expense percentages that make up our budget might be slightly different, but they tend to stay pretty static from year to year.
So here’s some things to know about where your tuition goes:
- Your tuition makes up about half of OCAD U’s revenue sources. The rest comes mostly from government grants, and a very small percentage comes from things like rental income, donations and sponsorships (known as “other” at 4%) and miscellaneous fees (class fees, materials fees, etc. at 5%). This means that when the University’s costs go up (say, for example, due to inflation), we only really have two major sources of revenue to cover those costs: tuition and government grants.
- We don’t normally tie particular revenues to particular expenses. Instead, all that stuff comes together in a big revenue pot and then gets divvied up into a bunch of expenses. Our expenses fall into six categories, the largest of which are academic compensation (paying your faculty members, representing 45% of our expenses), followed by non-academic compensation (this covers things like 24/7 access and paying for extra security staff) at 19%, and non-compensation costs (office supplies, furniture and equipment, professional development fund for staff, etc.) at 15%. Academic administration (paying people like me) takes up about 12% of our expenses, with facilities management taking up 5% (keeping the lights on, cleaning) and another “other” category at 4% (including things like our retirement incentive plan, student assistance fund and debt service costs).
So when your tuition increases, that percentage increase doesn’t get portioned out and added to a specific program or fund. It goes into the revenue pot and is used to offset increases in expenses among the above categories. There are, however, some exceptions, like our Health & Wellness fee, which gets rolled directly into the Health and Wellness Centre.
Factors that impact our operations budget include general cost increases that come as a result of inflation (e.g. power costs have risen almost 375% since 2004), as well as conditions of labour agreements.
You should also know that when we announce projects like the Creative City Campus, this represents new capital (i.e. infrastructure) funding that will improve your facilities and student experience, and your tuition doesn’t go into these developments. This is new money that we’ve raised through our relationship building with government and donors.
It’s never ideal for us to increase your fees and we work very hard to avoid adding to your costs, but sometimes it’s necessary.
Sidenote: if you’re curious about the visualization, it was made by the folks at Now Creative Group (OCAD U grads) and they captured their process in this adorable video:
— Deanne Fisher