Ontario students greet university funding model report with optimism and caution

TORONTO, Dec. 11, 2015 /CNW/ - Students are welcoming many of the recommendations laid out in the province's University Funding Model Review Final Report while cautioning the government to consider the potentially negative impacts of others. With $3.5 billion of public funding on the line for 20 public universities, the province must take it's time in choosing a path towards positive transformation that prioritizes access, affordability and sustainability while ensuring student voices remain at the front and centre of these important discussions.

"While we were disappointed that tuition fees and funding levels were not deemed to be within the scope of this review, we are pleased to see many of our concerns and suggestions reflected in the University Funding Model Final Report," said Rajean Hoilett, Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario. "Students have put forward thoughtful, reasonable and practical solutions to the challenges public universities face and we sincerely hope the government takes time to consider them seriously as it moves ahead with this project."

While the report is not prescriptive, it does outline some recommendations to modernize and transform the university funding model in Ontario. While some of these recommendations are aligned with student concerns and priorities, some of them open doors towards policies that could sacrifice quality, access and affordability for political expediency. Students are particularly concerned by the inclusion of performance-based funding in the recommendations, a funding method more prominent in the United States. While the government believes performance-based funding can incentivize improvements in university education, there is little empirical evidence that it actually does drive innovation in the sector. In fact, some studies have shown it to produce the opposite: encouraging poor behaviour such as arbitrarily raising admissions standards and increasing short-term certificate programs to inflate graduation rates.

"Students understand the importance of transforming the university funding model into something that is more stable and sustainable for the province and universities," said Gabrielle Ross-Marquette, Ontario National Executive Representative for the Federation. "But the government must not rush into hasty and potentially damaging decisions for the sake of saying they did something, they must commit to transformation that enhances quality, access and affordability of university education in Ontario."

Students will release more thorough commentary on the report in the new year and look forward to being an integral part of the ongoing conversations about restructuring university funding in Ontario and a similar review for the province's public colleges.

The Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario is the province's largest student organization, representing over 350,000 college, undergraduate and graduate students from Thunder Bay to Windsor.

SOURCE Canadian Federation of Students

For further information: Alastair Woods, Government & Media Relations Coordinator, at a.woods@cfsontario.ca or 647-378-8942.

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