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HomeNewsOntario Investing Nearly $1.3 Billion To "Stabilize" Colleges and Universities

Ontario Investing Nearly $1.3 Billion To “Stabilize” Colleges and Universities

ONTARIO-The Ontario government introduced a suite of measures today that it says will “stabilize” the province’s colleges and universities, including nearly $1.3 billion in new funding, while maintaining the tuition fee freeze.

The province is also introducing legislation that would if passed, support student mental health, safe and inclusive campuses and allow for increased transparency of fees according to officials.

“It’s never been more important to keep costs down for students and parents,” said Jill Dunlop, Minister of Colleges and Universities. “Instead of burdening hard-working families with higher tuition, we’re making historic investments to stabilize colleges and universities. We’re taking action to make fees more transparent. We’re supporting student mental health, fostering safer campuses and preparing students for rewarding careers.”

Ontario is extending the tuition fee freeze for publicly assisted colleges and universities for at least three more years. Institutions will be able to increase tuition by up to five per cent for out-of-province domestic students. At the time the freeze was first introduced and accompanied by a 10 per cent reduction in fees, Ontario had the highest university tuition rates in the country. The government says since then, students and parents have saved an estimated $1,600 per year on average for university and an estimated $350 per year on average for college, compared to what they would have paid under the previous policy that allowed three per cent increases each year.

The Ontario government is investing nearly $1.3 billion over three years, including:

  • $903 million over three years through the new Postsecondary Education Sustainability Fund starting in 2024-25, including $203 million in funding for top-ups for institutions with greater financial need.
  • $167.4 million over three years in additional funding for capital repairs and equipment.
  • $10 million in additional one-time funding through the Small, Northern and Rural Grant for colleges and Northern Ontario Grant for Universities in 2024-25. This funding will support financially vulnerable institutions while the government works with them on efficiency initiatives.
  • $15 million over three years beginning in 2024-25 through the Efficiency and Accountability Fund to support third-party reviews that will identify actions institutions can take to drive long-term cost savings and positive outcomes for students and communities. These reviews will target structural issues as well as operational policies in order to improve sustainability and student experiences.
  • $100 million in 2023-24 to support STEM program costs at publicly assisted colleges and universities with enrolments above currently funded levels.
  • $65.4 million to support research and innovation, including $47.4 million for the infrastructure refresh of Ontario’s Advanced Research Computing systems and $18 million for their ongoing operations and maintenance.
  • $23 million to enhance mental health support, including $8 million for the Postsecondary Mental Health Action Plan over the three years.

The province is also introducing the Strengthening Accountability and Student Supports Act, 2024 that would, if passed, authorize the Minister to issue directives requiring colleges and universities to provide information about ancillary fees and other students costs, including costs for textbooks or other learning materials. This could include ensuring that fees are published by institutions in a consistent manner – for instance, by publishing costs in a course syllabus.

In order to provide additional transparency as it relates to tuition, the province will also engage with colleges and universities to create tuition fee transparency to help students and their families better understand how tuition fees are used.

The Strengthening Accountability and Student Supports Act, 2024 would also, if passed, require colleges and universities to have policies in place relating to mental health and wellness supports and services and require colleges and universities to have policies in place to combat racism and hate, including but not limited to antisemitism and Islamophobia.

The province is also introducing measures to protect students and improve the integrity of career colleges. The province will better integrate enforcement efforts across ministries to strengthen oversight of career colleges and will ensure timely responses to concerns and complaints by improving data management, documentation processes and the efficacy of compliance investigations. As recommended by the blue-ribbon panel, the government will be working with colleges and universities to establish certain core competencies for board members, including financial literacy and risk management.

To help more students find jobs, the province intends to allow colleges to offer applied masters degrees in areas of study that will help students graduate with in-demand skills, expertise and credentials. This approach will also provide employers access to more industry-ready employees that meet labour market needs in specialized fields such as advanced manufacturing, artificial intelligence and animation.

The province will also launch a career portal to help students understand labour market needs and make informed decisions on postsecondary education. This will consolidate various sources of information to help students and newcomers access education and careers in Ontario.

 

 

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