OCUFA calls for more provincial postsecondary funding
Toronto, ON, November 16, 2023 – The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) says the government’s Blue-Ribbon Panel’s recommendations fall far short of what is required to even adequately fund Ontario’s world-class public universities.
“How can we continue to aim for world-class excellence when we are dead last in Canada in per capita student funding?” said Nigmendra Narain, President of OCUFA. “Even if fully implemented, the panel’s recommendations would still leave Ontario’s public universities with the lowest provincial funding and the near-highest tuition for students in the country, so they would not put universities and colleges on viable, much less sustainable, footing.”
In reviewing the panel’s report, OCUFA has found that, even with the proposed 10% increase in public postsecondary funding this year, Ontario’s universities would remain the lowest per-student funded institutions in the entire country. The panel has also recommended much more modest increases in subsequent years, but even if the province were to maintain an annual 10% increase, OCUFA estimates it would take 10 years just to reach the Canadian average. Indeed, universities will continue to get less but still expected to do more.
The panel has also proposed that students help “share the load” by increasing tuition, even though Ontario’s domestic students already pay approximately $1,100 more in annual tuition than the Canadian average. Along with dealing with the growing challenges of inflation and affordable housing, students could be left shouldering an even larger burden if the recommended tuition hikes are implemented. Indeed, students will pay more but still get less.
“We agree with the panel that much needs to be done to make universities financially sustainable and that the process must start with the provincial government,” says Narain. “But the Blue-Ribbon report fails to recognize how far behind Ontario has fallen. How can we tell domestic and international students we have world-class public universities if we can’t even meet the average level of funding in Canada?”
“OCUFA is optimistic that the report shared some of the concerns it expressed in its formal submission to the Blue-Ribbon panel, including universities’ overreliance on international student tuition and the impending increase in the number of domestic students,” said OCUFA Executive Director Jenny Ahn. “It also welcomes the panel’s acknowledgement that assertions around faculty being overcompensated are unwarranted.”
OCUFA looks forward to discussing the report with its faculty and academic librarian members, stakeholders and provincial officials at our Funding Our Future policy conference on November 30 and December 1, 2023, where the postsecondary community will collaborate to find positive outcomes and paths that serve university faculty, academic librarians, staff, and students as we strive for excellence in Ontario’s world-class public universities.
Founded in 1964, OCUFA represents 17,000 faculty, academic librarians, and other academic professionals in 31 member organizations across Ontario. It is committed to enhancing the quality of higher education in Ontario and recognizing the outstanding contributions of its members towards creating a world-class university system. For more information, please visit the OCUFA website at www.ocufa.on.ca.
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