Ontario allocates $1.3 billion to support struggling colleges, universities

Written by  Prerit Chauhan   |  February 27th 2024 03:37 PM  |  Updated: February 27th 2024 03:37 PM

Ontario allocates $1.3 billion to support struggling colleges, universities

PTC Web Desk: In a significant move, the Ontario government has pledged nearly $1.3 billion in funding to assist struggling colleges and universities. This announcement comes alongside a three-year freeze on tuition fee, demonstrating a commitment to easing financial burdens on students. The province aims to empower post-secondary institutions while introducing legislative changes to enhance accountability and transparency.

Tuition Fee Freeze and Limited Increase for Out-of-Province Students

The government's commitment to freezing tuition fee for another three years is a relief for students. However, post-secondary institutions will have the discretion to increase tuition for out-of-province domestic students or Canadians living outside Ontario by up to five percent in the academic year 2024-2025.

Legislative Changes for Transparency and Accountability

The Strengthening Accountability and Student Supports Act introduces several measures to enhance transparency and accountability within post-secondary institutions. The Minister of Colleges and Universities will gain the authority to issue directives, compelling institutions to provide more information about student costs.

Cost Transparency for Learning Materials: The government aims to make costs for textbooks and other learning materials transparent. This may involve publishing such costs in course syllabi, providing students with a clearer understanding of expenses.

Consultation on Tuition Fee Transparency: Ontario plans to engage in consultations regarding "tuition fee transparency," seeking public input to ensure a better understanding of how tuition money is utilised.

Policies for Mental Health, Wellness, and Combating Racism: The legislation mandates colleges and universities to establish policies addressing mental health, wellness, and combating racism, including antisemitism and Islamophobia. Further policy direction on the content of these policies will be issued by the ministry at a later date.

Authorisation for Applied Master's Degrees: The new legislation will empower colleges to offer applied master's degrees, expanding educational offerings.

Career Portal for Labour Market Insights: To guide students in making informed career choices, the government will launch a career portal providing insights into labor market needs.

Integrated Enforcement Efforts and Core Competencies for Board Members: The government pledges to integrate enforcement efforts related to college oversight. Additionally, it aims to establish core competencies for board members, focusing on financial literacy and risk management.

Financial Breakdown of Funding Allocation

The $1.3 billion funding allocation is structured to address various needs within the post-secondary education sector.

Broad-Based Supports and Need-Based Allocation: Approximately $903 million will be provided to post-secondary institutions over three years. Of this, $700 million constitutes broad-based supports, while $203 million is earmarked for institutions with greater need, considering factors such as geography, total enrollment, and reliance on international students.

Capital Repairs and Equipment: An allocation of $167.3 million is designated for capital repairs and equipment, ensuring that institutions have the necessary infrastructure for optimal learning environments.

Support for Small, Northern, and Rural Grants: An additional $10 million in one-time funding is committed to supporting small, northern, and rural grants.

Third-Party Reviews and STEM Programme Supports: The government will allocate $15 million over three years to support third-party reviews aimed at finding savings, $100 million for STEM program supports, and $65 million to bolster research and innovation.

Enhanced Mental Health Supports: Recognising the importance of mental health, $23 million will be dedicated to enhancing mental health supports within post-secondary institutions.

The government emphasises that the previous 10 percent reduction in tuition fees, implemented in 2019, has saved students and parents an estimated $1,600 per year for university and $350 per year for college. However, Colleges Ontario's request for a five percent tuition increase and a 10 percent rise in operating grants remains a topic of discussion.

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