TORONTO, March 27, 2012 /CNW/ - Ontario's students are pleased to see that the provincial budget has preserved past commitments to post-secondary education, but are discouraged by cuts to student aid and the lack of progress on other important priorities. The 2012 Ontario Budget re-committed to funding new post-secondary spaces and the new Ontario tuition grant program, while cutting planned investments in post-secondary capital projects. The government is also eliminating public support for the Ontario Work Study Program, the Ontario Special Bursary, the Dr. Albert Rose Bursary, and several existing scholarships, while reducing institutional support for international recruitment and non-PhD students.
"The government's commitment to continue funding enrolment growth and the tuition grant are critical to creating a more accessible and affordable post-secondary education system," said Sean Madden, President of the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA). "However, there remains more work to be done, particularly on improving the quality of the learning environment."
OUSA had presented modest budget proposals to the government to reward teaching, advance online education, expand experiential learning, and strengthen student support services. Students are left disappointed that suggestions to improve quality and efficiency in our universities were not enacted in this Budget. The cancellation of planned infrastructure investments on campuses will also exacerbate current space challenges for a growing student body, and downloading costs onto international students is the wrong direction for the government's internationalization strategy. Students are also frustrated that responsibility for funding work study and low-income student bursaries has been transferred to students themselves through the tuition set-aside.
"With this Budget, our universities will continue to operate with the least per-student funding and highest tuition fees of any province, while teaching quality and student success remain pressing issues," continued Madden. "While post-secondary education has been spared from more harmful cuts, we feel like this was a missed opportunity to begin investing in these important issues."
"The path to balance and prosperity must start by protecting and building on gains made in education. We will continue working with the government to take the necessary next steps toward a stronger post-secondary education system," said Sam Andrey, Executive Director of OUSA.
OUSA represents the interests of over 145,000 professional and undergraduate, full- and part-time university students from nine student associations.
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