TORONTO, Sept. 25 /CNW/ - Ontario government funding for students today
is far less than it was for their parents, says a research paper released
today by the Ontario Confederation of Faculty Associations. In
inflation-adjusted dollars, Ontario contributes only $4,271 per student today,
versus $6,568 in the 1970s, a gap of $2,297, or 35 per cent less.
In the 1970s there was an expansion of the university student population
comparable to what is occurring today, the paper notes. "But a large
generation gap has appeared," said OCUFA president, Professor Brian E. Brown.
"Ontario is not committing the resources to the children of baby boomers it
did to their parents 30 years ago - even though, it is estimated, 70 per cent
of jobs will require a university education."
"The gap is substantial," he said, "because the Ontario of the boomers'
university years never wavered in its commitment to higher education."
The paper, called A Tale of Two Expansions: Intergenerational Equity,
Quality, and Funding Fairness for Today's Students, says that in 1976-1977, in
inflation-adjusted terms, the annual provincial operating allocation for
universities was $1.3 billion higher than in 1971-72, almost double the annual
$771-million increase the government has planned for 2009-10 over 2005-2006 in
its Reaching Higher plan.
The amount of government money directed towards universities as a
proportion of total Ontario government spending is also shrinking. In the
1970s, the Ontario government devoted six per cent of its Budget to university
operating budgets. Today, its university operating funding is half that -
three per cent of the provincial Budget.
The story is similar for provincial GDP. In the 1970s, some .84 per cent
of the province's GDP was devoted to universities. Today the figure is only
.47 per cent of Ontario's GDP.
The paper points out that, not surprisingly, student-faculty ratios - a
key component of education quality - has almost doubled since the 1970s, from
15 students per professor then to today's 27.
The paper points out that the infusion of funding under Reaching Higher
came after almost a decade of cuts totaling about 20 per cent of university
operating funding. As a result, Reaching Higher is, in a sense, only an
attempt at catch-up hockey. The 1970s funding increases, on the other hand,
followed years of ever-increasing provincial investment in higher education,
so started from a more robust base than Reaching Higher.
To achieve intergenerational equity, Ontario needs to increase per
student funding to 1970s levels, and must commit an additional $1.6 billion
per year immediately, the paper says.
OCUFA represents 15,000 university professors and academic librarians in
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