TORONTO — The government of Ontario should double its funding to public universities in the province, a new report from the Ontario office of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives says.
“Over the last three decades, no province has moved more aggressively, or more consistently, to cut public funding to universities,” says Randy Robinson, Ontario director of the CCPA and a co-author of the report. “When it comes to funding, Ontario is dead last among the provinces. It is so far behind that in 2021, the provincial government would have had to increase university funding by $8,370 per student—double the actual level that year—just to reach the average funding level of the other provinces.
“Ontario universities and their staff, faculty, and students strive for excellence every day,” Robinson said. “It’s not asking too much to expect Queen’s Park to strive to be average.”
The 90-page CCPA report, Back from the Brink: Restoring public funding to Ontario’s universities, details the negative impacts of provincial funding decisions that have increasingly left universities and students to fend for themselves.
“Despite a 2019 tuition reduction and subsequent tuition freezes, domestic students pay undergraduate tuition fees that are 24 per cent higher than the average in the rest of Canada,” said report co-author Ryan Romard. “Meanwhile, the student aid system has gone from ‘high fee, high aid’ to just plain ‘high fee,’ leading to above-average student debt for the half of domestic students that need financial assistance to attend university.”
Other effects of provincial funding cuts, detailed in the report, include dramatic over-reliance on international students to fund university operations; exploitation of low-paid contract faculty; reduced provincial funding for university research; financial precarity for smaller universities; growing class sizes; and more.
“Given the multiple ill effects of the province’s funding model, it is clear that Queen’s Park needs to rethink its approach to supporting public universities,” said Robinson. “It is not enough to let market forces and technological change decide our universities’ future.”
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For more information or to arrange interviews, please contact Amanda Klang at [email protected]