Tory education plan attacks low- and middle-income families

TORONTO–Proposals put forward in a position paper released today by the Ontario Progressive Conservative Caucus would exacerbate existing inequality amongst Ontarians and severely damage the quality of Ontario colleges and universities. The recommendations in the paper call for continued tuition fee increases, the removal altogether of controls on tuition fees in many programs and increasing the role of the private sector in providing education and training.

“Record high tuition fees and the growing role of for-profit interests on campuses are threatening the quality and affordability of public post-secondary education in Ontario,” said Sarah Jayne King, Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario. “The Tory plan would continue to shift the burden for funding education onto the backs of students and their families, while forcing institutions to do more with less.”

The paper, entitled Paths to Prosperity: Higher Learning for Better Jobs, recommends different streams of education based on a students’ ability to pay. Students who can only afford minimal tuition fees would be streamed into online, non-credit based courses or into three year degree programs at colleges, while students with higher incomes would be encouraged to go into “elite” programs in universities.

Since 2006, tuition fees in Ontario have increased as much as 71 per cent. As a result, the amount of money students and graduates owe the Ontario government has more than doubled, increasing 130 per cent in just seven years.

“Affordable college and university education is a key component to a more equitable and more prosperous province,” said King. “The plans put forward by Tim Hudak and his party sustain prosperity for the rich, while low- and middle-income students will continue to be forced into debt or be shut out of colleges and universities entirely.”

Other problematic proposals in the paper include additional surveillance measures on student loan recipients, providing further funding to career colleges, wage freezes for college and university staff and faculty and changing the current standards for teaching and research for faculty. The paper provides no recommendations on graduate programs or international students.

The Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario is Ontario’s largest student organization, representing more than 300,000 college, undergraduate and graduate students from all regions of the province.

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