Education: spending increases, number of students decreases

Over the past 10 years, spending on education has jumped, the number of students has declined and results have improved little. Findings of the MEI.

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MONTREAL, Aug. 30, 2017 / CNW Telbec / - Over the past decade, public spending on education has jumped as the number of students declined in schools and academic results barely improved, a Note shows economic report published today by the MEI.

From 2006-2007 to 2015-2016, expenditure increased by 14 % taking into account inflation, while the number of students decreased by 6.5 %. The actual expenditure for each pupil thus increased from 10,791 $ to 13,162 $, an increase of 22 % in ten years. " That's a lot of money! ", highlighted Germain belzile, senior associate researcher at the MEI and co-author of the publication. “If spending per student had remained stable, total government spending would have been 2.3 billion $ lower in 2015-16,” he explains.

Where did most of this money go? In wages and state payments to employee pension funds, the latter having jumped by almost 50 % taking inflation into account, during the same period. Another factor contributing to the increase in spending is the rapid growth in the proportion of students with learning and social adjustment difficulties or with a disability, which gives rise to higher grants for schools. The decrease in the student-teacher ratio, from 14.4 to 13.2, also had a considerable impact. "This is equivalent to increasing the number of teachers by almost 10 %, without adding a single pupil", adds Germain belzile.

In addition, this increase in spending seems to have had little impact on students' academic performance. The graduation and qualification rate increased slightly across Quebec (by 7 percentage points), but these figures must be put in context. "A significant part of the improvement in the graduation rate is linked to the creation of new degrees, the value of which is questioned by some observers", emphasizes Alexandre moreau, public policy analyst and co-author of the publication.

"It seems clear that parents and taxpayers on the whole are paying more while getting less and less for their money," said Michel Kelly-Gagnon, President and CEO of the MEI. “It is time to question our ways of doing things, for example by reducing bureaucracy, increasing competition and giving parents greater freedom of choice. We must ensure that each new dollar spent on education contributes to improving the performance of the education system and the future prospects of our children, which is absolutely not the case at the moment ”, concludes Mr. Kelly-Gagnon.

The Economic Note titled "Where does the education money go?" "Is signed by Germain belzile, senior associate researcher at the MEI, and Alexandre moreau, public policy analyst at the MEI. This publication is available on the MEI's website.


The MEI is an independent, non-partisan, not-for-profit research and education organization. Through its studies and conferences, the MEI fuels debates on public policies in Quebec and across the country. Canada by proposing reforms that create wealth and are based on market mechanisms.


SOURCE Montreal Economic Institute

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