Public investment in Ontario universities continues to decline

OCUFA.on.ca – OCUFA Report (Volume 7, Issue 18)
May 14, 2013.

At first glance, the 2013 Ontario Budget doesn’t say much at all about higher education. This silence obscures the austerity logic still working against the province’s universities.

The 2013 Budget continues the slow cuts announced in 2012. Through so-called “policy levers”, some $121 million is being cut from university budgets in 2012-13 and 2013-14. The government will also begin clawing back operating funds according to international enrolment, essentially imposing a “head tax” on all new international students. Taken together, these measures will continue the ongoing decline in per-student funding.

Overall funding for universities, correcting for inflation, is set to decline by 2.5 per cent over the next four years. If current enrolment trends continue, per-student funding from the government will actually decline by seven per cent over the same period.

The new tuition framework – where average increases cannot exceed 3 per cent – will also harm university revenue. OCUFA believes strongly that Ontario students pay too much in tuition fees, and that the cost of higher education must be controlled. However, we have long argued that any freeze or reduced fee cap should be accompanied by compensatory government investment to replace lost tuition revenue. No such funding has been made available.

Overall, this means that universities in Ontario will be forced to grapple with steadily declining resources, and corresponding threats to educational quality and affordability. With all the social and economic benefits generated by our institutions, the government’s current course is harmful to students, to families, and the province.

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