Ontario Faculty release report on universities and the recession

Paper finds serious financial impacts on institutions and students

TORONTO, Sept. 29 /CNW/ - The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) today released a research report, written by Hugh MacKenzie, analyzing the impact of the recent recession on Ontario's universities. The report, commissioned by OCUFA, indicates that the economic downturn highlights fundamental problems with how the province funds higher education.

"This paper reveals serious cracks in Ontario's funding model," said Professor Mark Langer, President of OCUFA. "The recession starkly illustrates how our institutions are seriously under-funded, and how this under-funding puts serious financial pressure on students and their families."

The negative effects of the recession are due to policy changes that began in the mid-1990s. After huge cuts to public university funding, institutions were forced to turn to private sources of income such as endowment funds and higher tuition fees. Now, 14 years later, the global financial crisis has significantly reduced the value of endowment funds and pension plans, hurting university revenue. Moreover, record student unemployment has made it even harder for students to pay for Ontario's already expensive tuition fees. The Government of Ontario's current tuition policy will allow fees to increase by an average of five per cent in the 2009-10 school year.

"Higher tuition fees are the same as a tax on the middle class," said Prof. Langer. "By any economic logic, it makes little sense to raise taxes in the midst of recession."

OCUFA has recently launched the Quality Matters campaign (http://www.quality-matters.ca) to raise awareness of the need for greater public funding in the university system. This investment will help mitigate the effects of the recession while improving educational quality and controlling tuition fees.

"We need strong universities to ensure Ontario's economic and social vitality. Without the innovation and skilled workforce produced by our higher education system, we cannot hope to recover from the recession and compete in the global economy," said Prof. Langer. "In short, Ontario can't afford to let our universities continue to struggle with chronic under-funding."

To read the report, please go to http://www.ocufa.on.ca/Publications.researchreports.gk

Founded in 1964, OCUFA represent 15,000 faculty in 24 faculty associations across Ontario. For more information, please visit the OCUFA website at http://www.ocufa.on.ca.

SOURCE Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations

For further information: For further information: Henry Mandelbaum, Executive Director, (416) 671-3230, hmandelbaum@ocufa.on.ca; or Mark Rosenfeld, Associate Executive Director, (416) 979-2117, Ext. 233, mrosenfeld@ocufa.on.ca

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Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations

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