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The Department of Innovation and Advanced Education provides funding for post-secondary institutions in Alberta. As part of its mandate to improve Alberta’s performance in advanced education, the department made financial sustainability for institutions a priority in its 2015–2020 business plan. The government recently announced a review over the next two years of the funding model for institutions, reinforcing the importance of stable and predictable funding for post-secondary institutions.

Objective and Scope

We examined whether the department has documented its expectations and guidelines for postsecondary institutions entering into for-profit and cost recovery ventures. We also examined whether the department has processes to provide effective oversight of boards entering into, and monitoring the success of, these ventures in their institutions.


The department does not have adequate processes to oversee the unique risks that post-secondary institutions take on when they generate revenue from for-profit and cost recovery ventures.

As a result, ventures with the intended purpose of reducing an institution’s reliance on public funding could, in fact, increase the risk exposure and ultimate cost to Albertans.