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Queen’s responds to provincial funding for post-secondary institutions

Last week, the Ontario government announced close to $1.3 billion in funding meant to “stabilize” colleges and universities.

The province is providing the funding alongside legislation that, if passed, will aim to support student mental health, safe and inclusive campuses, and increased transparency around fees.

While post-secondary institutions have been clamoring for an end to the province’s tuition freeze, Ontario Minister of Colleges and Universities Jill Dunlop says the province is moving to stabilize post-secondary institutions without adding more costs for students and their families.

“It’s never been more important to keep costs down for students and parents,” said Dunlop.

“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.”

While college and university administrators have called for the end of the province’s tuition freeze, the Ontario government announced that it would be extended until at least 2026-27.

However, post-secondary institutions are permitted to raise tuition by 5% for out of province domestic applicants.

Queen’s University and Principal Patrick Deane have been vocal about their desire to see the tuition freeze that was first introduced in 2019 along with a 10% tuition reduction lifted, saying provincial underfunding, the tuition freeze, and inflation are combining to cause hardship for institutions like Queen’s.

On Friday, the university said while the additional funding is welcome, it falls well short of what’s needed.

“This week’s announcement while providing some short-term relief, falls short of what the government’s own expert panel said was urgently required to support universities in Ontario and does not solve the long-term financial sustainability issues faced by universities,” a statement from the university reads.

“Queen’s will continue to review the recent announcement and its potential impact on the university.”

The province’s Blue Ribbon Panel report recommended a tuition increase of 5% be permitted to help reflect the costs accrued due to inflation, among other recommendations like the province increasing per student funding.

Of the $1.3 billion, $903 million over 3 years will go towards supporting university sustainability with an extra $203 million reserved for institutions with greater needs – many of which could be Ontario colleges grappling with the new caps implemented on international students.

$23 million is earmarked for improving mental health supports, and $167.4 million over 3 years will support capital repairs and equipment.

While the province highlighted the “historic” nature of this new funding, it falls well short of the $2.5 billion infusion that was recommended by the expert panel.

Owen Fullerton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Owen Fullerton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporterhttp://ygknews.ca
Born and raised in Whitby, Ontario, Owen has been living in Kingston for about three years after starting the band Willy Nilly. Prior to that he worked at CKLB radio in Yellowknife and completed studies in Niagara College's Broadcasting program.

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