The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) commends the NDP’s proposal to freeze provincial tuition fees and eliminate interest on student loans, but notes that the party needs to do much more to ensure the long-term health of the Ontario postsecondary sector.
“The NDP platform goes further than any other official platform released to date in ensuring that students can access and afford a postsecondary education,” said Kate Lawson, President of OCUFA. “But there’s still more that needs to be done to improve postsecondary education in Ontario.”
Ontario undergraduate students pay the highest tuition in Canada at $7,259 per year on average. The NDP promise to freeze tuition and eliminate interest on student loans represents an important step toward ensuring the affordability and accessibility of higher education for all students.
Any tuition freeze must be accompanied by additional public funding for universities to compensate for lost tuition revenue and maintain the level of per-student funding that institutions receive. Based on the Ontario NDP platform’s cost estimates, it is unclear if this would be the case.
Despite some positive proposals, the Ontario NDP fell short on tackling major issues facing the province’s universities and colleges. “There’s more to higher education policy than freezing tuition. Ontario’s universities receive the lowest per-student funding in Canada and have the highest student-faculty ratio in the country. Failure to address these challenges puts our universities – and our students’ educations – at risk,” Lawson said.
OCUFA is calling for renewed public investment in higher education. Increased funding is needed to bring per-student funding in line with the national average and to hire additional full-time faculty members to help reduce class sizes, and increase opportunities for student-faculty interaction – important indicators of a high quality university education.
“There’s still much to be done to make Ontario the world leader of postsecondary education that it should be,” Lawson said. “Investing in colleges and universities provides opportunities for Ontario’s youth and supports the economic engine of Ontario.”
OCUFA is the voice of 17,000 university professors and academic librarians in 28 faculty associations across Ontario. On behalf of its members, it is committed to building a high quality and accessible higher education system in the province.
Visit OCUFA’s website here: www.ocufa.on.ca
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