Education quality at risk as expanded access to university not matched with additional funding in Ontario Budget
TORONTO – Ontario’s faculty and academic librarians are concerned that the 2018 Ontario Budget continues to underfund the province’s universities. Ontario’s universities receive the lowest per-student funding in Canada and the government’s decision not to meaningfully invest in core operating grants threatens the quality of education. The lack of increased funding to support the government’s stated goals of providing fairness for contract faculty and encouraging faculty renewal is disappointing.
“We are pleased to see expanded investments to improve access for students,” said OCUFA President Gyllian Phillips. “But, as government funding for universities erodes, Ontario’s faculty are reaching the limits of our abilities to provide the high-quality learning experiences our students expect.”
Faculty and students already feel pressure from underfunding. Over the past decade, student enrolment at Ontario universities has increased seven times faster than full-time faculty hiring, Ontario currently has the highest student-faculty ratio in Canada, and more than half of the province’s university faculty are now working on contracts without job security. Leadership from government is needed to close the student-faculty gap and convert more contract faculty into secure, full-time positions.
“Faculty have been active in calling for the government to address precarious academic work,” said Phillips. “Now that Ontario’s labour laws have been updated, new public funding is required to implement these laws at universities across the province and bring fairness to contract faculty.”
A new poll commissioned by OCUFA shows that 93 per cent of Ontarians believe that universities should be model employers and over 84 per cent support fairness measures for contract faculty, including equal pay and access to benefits. Additionally, 85 per cent support providing contract faculty with pathways to full-time, secure positions. OCUFA has been calling on government to launch a faculty renewal strategy and it’s disappointing that there is no funding for this popular initiative in the budget.
“A commitment to investing in full-time faculty hiring would represent a strong complement to the government’s priority of increasing access,” said Phillips. “Until then, class sizes will keep growing, reducing the time and support faculty are able to provide. Our students deserve better.”
Ontario’s universities are vital institutions within our communities, delivering education to thousands of students, producing thought-provoking and ground-breaking research, and providing good jobs that support local economies. Robust public funding is the foundation upon which our postsecondary institutions thrive for the benefit of everyone in the province, and that’s why it is important the government invests in a fair future for the province’s universities.
Founded in 1964, OCUFA represents 17,000 faculty and academic librarians in 28 faculty associations across Ontario. For more information, please visit the OCUFA website at www.ocufa.on.ca.