Ontario universities looking to province for strategic reinvestment that enhances quality and their individual strengths

TORONTO, April 23, 2015 /CNW/ - Ontario universities accept the province's decision to maintain funding per student at current levels because of fiscal constraints, but say future strategic reinvestment will be necessary to sustain excellence for students and to fully realize the power of universities to drive economic growth.

"Ontario universities are committed to their role as the economic engines that deliver social and economic prosperity for individuals, communities, the province and the country," says Max Blouw, Chair of the Council of Ontario Universities (COU) and President of Wilfrid Laurier University.

"Strategic government investment in such critically important areas as the province's best minds is essential to maintain Ontario's competitive advantage and to truly mobilize universities as key players in fuelling the economic gains that are so vital for everyone."

Students will benefit from extensive changes to the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP), including the indexing of Ontario student aid levels to inflation and an end to a requirement that students report their vehicle as an asset when being assessed for aid.

Also of benefit to students is the renewal of the Ontario Youth Jobs Strategy with an additional $250 million over two years, including an extra $5 million in funding for the Postsecondary Education Fund for Aboriginal Learners and $13.8 million for new on-campus accelerators in 2015-16.

Ontario universities are facing ongoing financial pressures, including declining operating grants per student, which have been for years at the lowest per-student rate in the country.

"For universities to maintain the best possible quality of education for students, and indeed improve it in order to be nationally and internationally competitive, increased government investment in university education in the near future is crucial," says Bonnie M. Patterson, President and CEO of COU, which represents Ontario's 21 publicly funded universities.

"Universities realize that increasing funding for universities isn't possible in the government's current fiscal reality, but they will be looking to the province for strategic reinvestment in the sector as Ontario's books are balanced," Patterson says.

Universities will continue to work collaboratively with the province to review the current university funding formula to ensure stability, flexibility and predictability, along with ongoing adjustments for cost increases.

Quick Facts:

  • Ontario universities are proud of their efficiency in educating more students with less funding per student than any jurisdiction in Canada. 
  • University graduates have higher employment rates, and higher income than any other level of education.
  • According to Research Infosource Inc., seven Ontario universities are among the Top-15 research institutions in Canada, and 18 are placed in the Top-50.
  • Ontario universities provided $840 million in 2013-14 to students in non-repayable bursaries and scholarships, up from $278 million in 2000-01.

The Council of Ontario Universities is the voice of Ontario's universities, promoting the value of education, research and innovation that leads to social, cultural and economic success.

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SOURCE Council of Ontario Universities

For further information: Wendy McCann, Director, Strategic Communications and Media Relations, 416-979-2165 x233, 647-271-0825 (cell), Email Wendy McCann (wmccann@cou.on.ca)

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