Brockville, Cornwall, Kingston – Ontario’s colleges face a provincewide funding shortfall of more than $100 million a year that the province’s next government needs to address.
“College education gives students a real edge in this competitive economy,” said Glenn Vollebregt, President and CEO of St. Lawrence College. “It’s essential that we continue to deliver high-quality programs that open up a world of opportunities for people seeking great careers.”
A number of factors are affecting Ontario’s colleges, from declining enrolment to cost increases related to the rate of inflation. Meanwhile, per-student provincial funding has fallen every year since 2007-08.
Ontario’s colleges currently receive the lowest per-student funding in Canada. The per-student revenue for colleges is lower than the amounts provided to Ontario universities and high schools. Currently, colleges need an additional $100 million per year to maintain programs and services for students.
While some of the cost pressures were offset this year by an increase in international students, the long-term challenge remains.
As accelerating automation and innovations revolutionize the workplace, Ontario needs to invest in college education. More students need to acquire the specialized qualifications and expertise that lead to rewarding careers.
Colleges are calling for candidates in the provincial election to commit to investing in student success. Some of the options for addressing the colleges’ funding shortfall include:
Enhancing the annual operating funding provided to colleges.
- Creating a tuition-fee framework for colleges that is distinct from the tuition framework for universities.
- Developing a targeted funding increase to expand science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) programs by 30 per cent over the next four years.
“The chronic underfunding of college education is putting high-quality programs in jeopardy,” Vollebregt said. “Our next government needs to ensure we have the resources to provide students with the professional and technical expertise that leads to rewarding careers.”