COU welcomes focus on postsecondary education by Ontario's major political parties - but quality agenda lacking

    TORONTO, Sept. 6 /CNW/ - The Council of Ontario Universities (COU)
welcomes the fact that the major political parties in the province are paying
attention to postsecondary education in their recently released platforms.
    "We commend the commitments that would improve access and funding to
postsecondary education in the province. A high-quality university system is
essential to Ontario's economic prosperity. However, a quality agenda for our
universities needs much more attention by all party leaders," said Peter
George, Chair of Council and President of McMaster University.
    Last year, over 357,000 students - an all-time high - enrolled in Ontario
universities, and this year first-year enrolments are expected to rise a
further 5%. By 2009-10, enrolment at Ontario universities is projected to grow
by an additional 46,000 students. While increased enrolment is a good news
story, continued growth in our student-faculty ratio is not. Over the past 17
years, our student-faculty ratio has gone from 17-1 to 26-1, resulting in
Ontario falling further behind the U.S. and other jurisdictions regarding
student engagement with their professors.
    COU does not support tuition roll-backs and freezes. While they may seem
appealing as ways to address postsecondary education challenges, experience
has shown that these are ineffective in improving access and quality. In
addition, they add huge costs that would have to be absorbed by taxpayers.
Direct grants to Ontario students in need are far more effective in ensuring
access. COU strongly supports the principle that no qualified student who
wishes to pursue a university education shall be denied access due to a lack
of financial resources.
    "University teaching and research are engines of economic growth in the
global, knowledge-based economy. They are fundamental to producing highly
qualified personnel and enabling Ontarians to realize their dreams. Funding to
support student access and quality must remain a key priority for the new
government," said Paul Genest, President of COU.
    The Council of Ontario Universities is calling on all parties to
strengthen their platforms and commit to the need for substantive investments
in our institutions so that we can:
    -   Improve student-faculty ratios to improve quality and heighten
        student engagement;
    -   Provide more spaces for the growing numbers of students who are
        seeking a university education; and
    -   Provide more graduate opportunities to advance research and
        innovation in the province.

For further information:

For further information: Dr. Paul C. Genest, President, COU, (416)
979-2165 ext. 256

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