Recommendations for a meaningful successor to Reaching Higher
The Government of Ontario’s Reaching Higher plan was a visionary document that provided needed funding to Ontario’s postsecondary system. However, it was not sufficient to overcome the long history of university under-funding in our province. Its impact was also eroded by unanticipated increases in enrolment and the current economic downturn.
The 2010 Ontario Budget must address this under-funding and its associated effects. OCUFA believes there are three areas of urgent concern in the university system:
- The student-to-faculty ratio is too high, damaging the quality of the student experience at Ontario universities;
- Educational facilities, libraries and information technology resources are in need of renewal in order to support a quality learning environment; and
- Tuition fee levels in Ontario require students to pay for more than their fair share of operating revenue, harming the accessibility of the university system.
Each of these challenges is best resolved through increased public funding. In particular, OCUFA recommends:
- The Government of Ontario invest an additional $153 million in 2010-11 to hire additional academic staff and renew campus learning infrastructure. This amount will increase to $765 million by 2014-15, rising by an additional $153 million per year during that period;
- The Government of Ontario freeze tuition fees at current levels; and
- Compensatory funding be provided to institutions for lost revenue from proposed tuition increases.
These investments will greatly improve the quality and accessibility of Ontario’s higher education system. In addition, OCUFA recommends that new Multi-Year Accountability Agreements between the Government of Ontario and individual universities be developed in consultation with faculty and students. These agreements should provide meaningful and comparable data that facilitates collaborative quality improvement.