With tuition fees frozen, Ontario Budget should increase university funding and student financial assistance

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The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations is pleased to see the Ontario Government extend the tuition fee freeze for domestic students into 2023. However, urgent funding is needed to support education quality and accessibility at Ontario’s public universities.

“If the Ford government is serious about tackling student debt and high tuition fees, the upcoming Ontario budget should provide crucial funding to reduce universities’ dependence on student fees, reverse cuts to student financial assistance, and replace student loans with non-repayable grants,” said Sue Wurtele, OCUFA President. “It is quite troubling that Ontario continues to rank last in Canada in per-student funding and that its students are graduating with historically high levels of student debt.”

On a per-student basis, Ontario’s funding for universities has fallen further and further behind the rest of the country over the last decade, a trend that threatens the future health of these vital public postsecondary institutions. Ontario universities now receive an average of only 33 per cent of their operating funding from the provincial government.

“University faculty and academic librarians are strong believers in a vibrant university education accessible to all students,” said Wurtele. “This goal can only be achieved if the government steps up to address the chronic underfunding of Ontario’s universities, which weakens our postsecondary education system and drives up student fees.”

Extending the tuition fee freeze into 2023 will provide much needed short-term relief for students struggling to make ends meet, but it is a far cry from the commitment to university revitalization that Ontario needs. Bringing the province up to the average level of per-student funding across the rest of Canada will require a large but important new investment of $12.9 billion over the next five years.

“Our students deserve better and Ontario deserves better,” said Wurtele. “Our universities will be a vital part of the province’s post-pandemic recovery, so every dollar spent on postsecondary education now is an investment in our collective future.”

In the coming months, Ontario political parties hoping to form the next government will have an opportunity to put forward their own visions for the future of Ontario’s universities. If they believe in the importance of our public postsecondary institutions, those visions should include policies that increase public investment in Ontario’s chronically underfunded universities and remove financial barriers to higher education.

Founded in 1964, OCUFA represents 17,000 faculty, academic librarians, and other academic professionals in 31 member associations 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:
Ben Lewis, Communications Lead at 416-306-6033 or communications@ocufa.on.ca