COU Response to Ontario Government Announcement on Postsecondary Sector Tuition

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Transforming Universities

COU Response to Ontario Government Announcement on Postsecondary Sector Tuition

Toronto – January 17, 2019

Statement by David Lindsay, President and CEO of the Council of Ontario Universities:

“Ontario universities share the government’s goal of ensuring that all students who qualify should be able to access a postsecondary opportunity. However, today’s announcement, cutting domestic tuition fees by 10 per cent, will reduce universities’ revenue by $360 million – and negatively affect their ability to provide the best possible learning experience for students, partner with their communities and help deliver economic and social benefits to the people of Ontario.

Ontario universities understand the province’s fiscal realities and are committed to continuing to operate as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible, ensuring that the tax dollars that are invested in universities bring the best possible return to the people of Ontario.

The current financial situation faced by universities should be viewed in the context of over 16 years of decreased funding. Since 2002-03, operating grants per student, when adjusted for inflation, have decreased by 10.6 per cent, which in turn has required universities to fund a greater proportion of their operating costs through tuition fees.

Ontario universities operate at the lowest per-student funding levels in Canada, and even as funding has fallen, the demands on university budgets have risen – including increased campus services in areas such as student mental health, and more cost-intensive resources and equipment for the science and technology programs that are required to meet the needs of Ontario’s employers.

Universities hope that the changes to OSAP announced today will continue to ensure that all students who qualify for a postsecondary education will be able to access one. As part of their commitment to accessibility, universities paid out more than $1 billion in scholarships and bursaries in 2017-18.

A healthy, financially sustainable university system is vital to Ontario’s economic and social well-being, preparing students for life-long meaningful careers, supplying employers with the skilled graduates they need, helping build thriving communities and strengthening public services such as health care with high-quality professionals and innovative research.

COU and member universities will keep working with the government to discuss the sector’s financial situation and clarify the effects of the tuition cut as well as any future policy decisions that may affect their revenues. We welcome Minister Fullerton’s commitment not to reduce the government’s operating grants to universities.

Universities will continue to innovate and operate as cost-effectively as possible, and are committed to working with government in Ontario to help create a better future for students, communities and the province.”

Background Facts

  • Per-student government operating grants to universities, when adjusted for inflation, have declined by 10.6 per cent since 2002-03.
  • The allowable 3-per-cent increase in annual tuition in recent years has been necessary to enable universities to offset the decrease in government grants. Combined revenue from tuition and Ontario grants has remained flat since 2010, when adjusted for inflation.
  • On average 35 per cent of Ontario universities’ revenues come from domestic tuition.
  • Additionally, Ontario universities receive, on average, only 35 per cent of their revenue from per-student operating grants. This is the lowest level of any province and well below the Canadian average. Universities in other provinces receive more than half of their revenues from the provincial government. Ontario universities’ per-student provincial funding is about 20 per cent below the Canadian average.
  • Ontario universities operate at the lowest cost in Canada and are second only to Nova Scotia’s in terms of overall efficiency, according to a report by the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario. In categories such as research discoveries, job creation, producing engaged citizens and being magnets for talent, the report identified Ontario universities as the highest performing and most efficient in the country.

For more information, contact:

Simon Beck
Senior Media Relations Officer or 416-979-2165 ext 238

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