Ontario government response to international student cap misses the mark, professors say

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TORONTO, January 26, 2024 – The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations said the Minister of Colleges and Universities’ response to a two-year proposed cap on international student visas won’t solve the real problems plaguing the province’s universities.

“The government’s proposals for oversight of our postsecondary institutions miss the mark and focus on a manufactured crisis,” said Nigmendra Narain, OCUFA President. “Ontario needs international students, but universities need more funding from the government to provide the support that international—and domestic—students need to succeed inside and outside the classroom. The Ministry has not provided any tools to do this with these proposals.”

Narain noted that the Ministry’s announcement provides no funding or plan to help universities to fulfill new requirements like their call for a guarantee for housing options. He also raised concerns that the proposals do not restrict partnerships between public universities and private institutions, despite reports of bad actors in similar partnerships in the college sector.

“Ontario universities sit last in per-student funding in the country, far below the Canadian average. Some of our public universities in need of resources are targeted by private corporations that are often not in alignment with the rigorous standards, governance structures, and educational missions of colleges and universities,” he said. “We have seen the worst-case scenario for this already and cannot go down the road of more privatization at our public universities.”

OCUFA also pointed out that the government ignored the fundamental mission of universities to develop critical research, teach problem-solving and critical thinking, and to prepare today’s students for the jobs of tomorrow.

“A university education is, and has been, versatile and adaptable to the labour market for decades,” said Narain. “The government must support the innovation and pursuit of excellence that universities provide to our province’s economy.”

“The government’s Blue-Ribbon panel on higher education acknowledged that Ontario universities need more funding. Months after receiving the panel’s report the government has yet to respond to the recommendations and commitments to our universities,” said Jenny Ahn, OCUFA Executive Director. “OCUFA is recommending an annual 11.75 per cent increase in funding for the next five years to bring us to the Canadian average.”

OCUFA will present its pre-budget submission recommendations to the government’s Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs this month to offer solutions for a stable, sustainable public postsecondary sector.

Founded in 1964, OCUFA represents 18,000 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.


For more information, contact:
Manisha Aggarwal-Schifellite, Communications Lead at media@ocufa.on.ca