Over the past two weeks, both the federal and provincial governments produced budgets that touch on post-secondary education.
The Ontario budget had relatively little to say about colleges and universities. Funding will rise from $3.48 billion to $3.49 billion, amounting to an effective cut when inflation is factored in. For the first time, student tuition fees will comprise more than half the operating revenue. The budget also extends the government’s commitment to net zero agreements in the broader public sector, requiring that the cost of any wage increases be offset by other measures. There is a promise of a new funding model, which has yet to be revealed, though a consultation paper was released in April (see: http://www.tcu.gov.on.ca/pepg/audiences/universities/uff/uff_ConsultationPaper.pdf) The government also announced another $15 million for Ontario Online, which will begin operation in 2015-16. There were some minor changes in the OSAP plan. No announcement was made about infrastructure, including new campuses.
For OCUFA’s fuller assessment, see http://ocufa.on.ca/assets/FINAL-Post-Budget-Analysis-2015.pdf.
As CAUT writes: “The 2015 federal budget continues with the overriding focus of the federal government’s approach to science: to support industry in the commercialization of ideas and knowledge under an umbrella called ‘innovation,’ while undervaluing basic, discovery-driven research.” No new money has been granted to the funding agencies beyond funds for market-driven research partnerships. New funds have been allocated to fund Mitac internships as partnerships with the private sector. “The forced marriage between post-secondary institutions and market needs in a few key sectors of the economy as a condition to get federal research funding lets politicians and CEOs decide what gets funded and undermines discover-driven research,” CAUT argues. Cash transfers to the provinces to support post-secondary education will rise only 3% per year, which, as CAUT says, “does not adequately reflect the rising costs and increased demand for post-secondary education.” As for student aid, Canada Student Grants will be made available to qualifying students from low and middle-income families enrolled for at least 34 weeks (rather than the previous 60 weeks). The majority of the 42,000 students who will benefit from this change, however, are those attending private career colleges. The Canada Student Loans Program will also be slightly expanded.
For a fuller assessment, see http://www.caut.ca/docs/default-source/better-funding/caut-response---2015-2016-federal-budget-%282015-04%29f48634f1c6ef6d389810ff00005eecd3.pdf?sfvrsn=0