Ontario faculty call for transparency from government on student housing crisis consultations

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TORONTO, September 13, 2023 – Faculty and academic librarians are calling for more clarity and bold solutions from the Minister of Colleges and Universities after a recent announcement that the Ministry will host consultations on the student housing crisis this fall.

The Minister announced the start of roundtable meetings that include representatives from municipalities, private career colleges, and builders, with the aim of removing barriers to creating affordable student housing. It is unclear in the initial announcement which stakeholders in the postsecondary sector will be invited to participate in the meetings.

“It is disturbing that reporting on the government’s initial list of consultants regarding the student housing crisis does not include people who have seen its effects firsthand, including faculty and academic librarians and student groups,” said Nigmendra Narain, President of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations. “Faculty and their allies have been offering a straightforward solution to the student housing crisis, and that solution is more core funding for our postsecondary sector from the government. The government needs to listen to the real experts with real experience on this issue.”

The chronic underfunding of the postsecondary sector has forced universities to look elsewhere for revenue, including tuition fees from international students. Domestic students are also facing high student debt, and now all students are facing a housing affordability crisis.

“International students did not cause this crisis. Government neglect of our world-class public universities has caused this crisis. Reversing this trend and investing in public postsecondary education will help to solve it and help students,” said Narain.

The urgent need for sustainable, robust government funding in postsecondary education was also a key component of OCUFA’s recommendations to the government’s Blue-Ribbon Panel on postsecondary student success and financial stability earlier this year. That panel, whose report is now with the Minister, also did not include current faculty or student experts from the sector.

“If the Ford government really cares about fixing the housing crisis, it should be looking at creative solutions that require investment in our public institutions, together with faculty, staff, and students in our campus communities,” said OCUFA Executive Director Jenny Ahn. “In our Blue-Ribbon Panel submission, OCUFA warned that the Ford government’s underinvestment in our public universities would result in such a crisis. The government is walking a dangerous path, and the results will be disastrous if they continue to ignore real solutions.”

Faculty and academic librarians call on the government to fund universities adequately and sustainably, and meaningfully engage with true experts on a sustainable path forward for universities and their communities.

Founded in 1964, OCUFA represents 17,000 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