TORONTO, Feb. 13, 2013 /CNW/ - Yesterday's release of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Caucus white paper entitled Paths to Prosperity: Higher Learning for Better Jobs has students in Ontario concerned. While students agree that the rising cost of higher education in Ontario has not been accompanied by an increase in the quality of education they receive, they believe that many of the paper's recommendations fail to adequately address, and may in fact increase, barriers to access and affordability in Ontario.
"Although Paths to Prosperity: Higher Learning for Better Jobs recognizes that rising tuition has not been accompanied by an increase in quality, it suggests that continued tuition increases are key to increasing quality," said Alysha Li, President of OUSA. "Students would like to see quality increases before students and families are asked to pay for a university education. OUSA is particularly concerned with the creation of a tiered higher education system," continued Li. "Research has shown that low-income students display higher tendencies to be price sensitive. To create a tuition deregulated elite tier of universities, even with increased financial aid, will result in a decrease in the number of low-income students attending these institutions."
"OUSA is also concerned about the proposal to create a merit-based financial aid system," said Rylan Kinnon, Executive Director of OUSA. "As the cost of tuition increases, more and more students find themselves working longer hours to fund their education. With less time available for their academic pursuits, students' performance can suffer. If a struggling student has their financial assistance reduced, they will be forced to work even longer hours in study, which can only further hinder their academic performance."
Students are, however, in support of providing more opportunities and incentives for the creation teaching-focused faculty positions at Ontario universities. Since the 1980s, teaching loads have decreased from an average of three courses per academic year to under two courses per academic year. Although students support teaching-focused faculty, they also recognize the importance of research to an undergraduate education and believe that even teaching-focused faculty should still have part of their time devoted to research that is then integrated into the classroom experience.
"Over the past decade, tuition in Ontario has risen 28.1 per cent in real dollars, outpacing the 8.56 per cent increase to median family income and the rate of inflation," said Kinnon. "While the Ontario PC Party has recognized that tuition continues to be a serious concern for students in Ontario, their proposal fails to address the root of this problem. A more affordable and fair tuition framework, coupled with increased financial aid, is the most equitable and economical approach to address barriers to access and affordability in Ontario's post-secondary system."
About the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA)
OUSA represents the interests of over 155,000 professional and undergraduate, full- and part-time university students at nine member associations across Ontario.
SOURCE: Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance
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