Ontario political parties don’t make the grade on higher education

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The grades are in: Wynne, Hudak, and Horwath all receive failing marks when it comes to postsecondary issues in Ontario. All parties have failed to respond adequately to PSE in their platforms according to the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA).


The Liberal’s plan seems to be one of benign neglect, the NDP’s proposal does not go far enough and the PC’s proposals would lead to outright devastation of postsecondary funding. No party has proposed measures in their platforms to address the real and pressing needs of the higher education sector, argues Kate Lawson, OCUFA president.


“According to the party platforms, Ontario’s universities don’t warrant much attention,” Lawson said. “But those of us who work and study in the sector know that chronic underfunding is taking its toll on our universities and the education our students receive.”


Ontario currently has the lowest per-student funding and the highest student-faculty ratio in the country. Training, colleges and universities account for $7.3 billion in government expenditure every year. Universities alone enrol nearly 450,000 students and employ more than 17,000 professors and academic librarians.


Despite this major impact, not a single party running in the Ontario election delivered a clear vision for the future for the postsecondary education sector.


“By ignoring the realities faced by our universities, the parties are neglecting the academic and social development that comes from higher education. And by ignoring the important contributions that higher education makes, they’re ignoring jobs and the economy.” 


OCUFA supports the limited provisions laid out in the Ontario Liberal and NDP platforms. Despite these proposed improvements, none of the parties offered solutions to the larger issues facing higher education in the province, including widening student faculty ratios and inadequate levels of per-student funding. 


“We must do more to make Ontario the leader in postsecondary education it should be,” Lawson said. “Any level of investment will help our universities and colleges thrive.”


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.

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.


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Caitlin Kealey