Ontario professors offer a blueprint for revitalizing public universities

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TORONTO/SUDBURY, January 30, 2024 –The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations recommended four solutions for investing in Ontario’s publicly funded university system in its pre-budget submission, Empowering Tomorrow: The OCUFA Blueprint for Revitalizing Ontario’s Public Universities.

In the submission, released today, OCUFA outlined the problems created by provincial underfunding and offered its solutions for a thriving postsecondary sector:

  • RECOMMENDATION ONE: OCUFA calls for compounding annual total provincial university funding increases of 11.75 per cent for a period of five years to reach the national average.
  • RECOMMENDATION TWO: Instead of increasing domestic tuition, OCUFA echoes the call of student groups for government to enhance the student assistance budget and convert loans into grants.
  • RECOMMENDATION THREE: OCUFA calls for a review of Ontario’s provincial funding formula, including the corridor model, with an embedded goal of supporting domestic enrolment growth.
  • RECOMMENDATION FOUR: OCUFA calls for reversing the planned implementation of the performance-based funding scheme.

“For too long, faculty, staff, and students at Ontario universities have been forced to do much more with much less due to this underfunding,” said Nigmendra Narain, OCUFA President. “Our budget recommendations will ensure that our world-class publicly funded universities not just survive in the future but continue to thrive.”

Ontario has the lowest per-domestic student funding level for universities in Canada. The province provided $9,890 in total university funding per domestic full-time equivalent in 2021-22, the most recent year for which there is comprehensive data. This is a total far behind the national average of $15,807. Ontario is also the only province that imposes funding caps on domestic students—a disincentive for universities to enrol more domestic students.

The government of Ontario’s disinvestment has led universities to look elsewhere for revenue, including sky-high international student tuition fees. OCUFA noted the great benefits brought to our campuses by international students and warned that such a heavy reliance on their high tuition fee dollars is very risky. This number is now capped by the federal government, which underscores the urgent need for more robust, sustainable provincial funding for Ontario’s universities.

“The Ontario government’s blue-ribbon panel on postsecondary education recognized the need for more funding for our universities, and the government has not yet commented on these findings,” said Jenny Ahn, OCUFA Executive Director. “The current state of affairs for Ontario universities is unsustainable. Our recommendations for the provincial budget provide a path forward for investing in public education.”

OCUFA presented its recommendations to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs (SCFEA) in Sudbury today during Pre-Budget Consultations. OCUFA continues to monitor the Ontario government’s response to the recommendations set forth by the Blue-Ribbon Panel over the next month.

OCUFA’s full pre-budget submission is available here.

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