St. Lawrence College (SLC) along with Ontario’s 24 colleges are calling for an immediate end to the province’s tuition freeze, a modest five per cent tuition increase, and enhanced investments in Ontario’s public college students.
“It’s essential Ontario invests in the success of our students,” said Glenn Vollebregt, St. Lawrence College President and CEO. “Investments made today will ensure more students acquire the expertise that leads to rewarding careers and fuels Ontario’s economic growth. We see every day how our graduates contribute as team members in industries and businesses throughout Eastern Ontario.”
The colleges’ urgent call for improved investments follows the release last week of a report by a provincial blue-ribbon panel of experts on financial stability in post-secondary education. Ontario’s public colleges support the panel’s work and appreciate the government establishing this process.
Public college graduates will continue to be a critical source of talent in the years ahead. College graduates will be particularly important to meet industry growth in key sectors such as advanced manufacturing, the electric-vehicle industry, mining, health care, nuclear energy and in the construction of 1.5-million new homes.
To ensure Ontario has a highly qualified workforce, the colleges are calling for:
• An immediate end to the tuition freeze and approval of a modest five per cent increase in public college tuition for September 2024.
• Increase provincial investment in public college students through a 10 per cent increase in operating grants for September 2024.
• The creation of a distinct tuition policy for public colleges that addresses the long-standing inequities between college and university education.
• A lifting of the cap on high-demand programs to allow more students to enrol in programs where there is a great demand for graduates in the labour market.
• Implement common-sense changes to create more opportunities for people to study part time.
Full details of the colleges’ recommendations to the government can be found in the public colleges’ statement of principles, which is now available online.
Public college tuition was cut in 2019 and has been frozen ever since. Ontario’s public colleges currently have the second-lowest tuition in Canada. The average Ontario public college tuition is around $2,700 per year for a full-time program.
Measures to promote the financial stability of Ontario’s public colleges must ensure college programs remain affordable and accessible to all students, regardless of where they live. This is particularly important at Ontario’s strong and independent francophone and northern colleges.
Ontario’s public colleges already provide strong value for money. Colleges have found many ways to work together and find efficiencies such as shared bargaining and application service, collaborative purchasing and collaborative curriculum development, among many other examples. Colleges know it is vital to continue to provide value for money and are always seeking additional areas of collaboration and potential efficiency gains.
“Investing in Ontario’s public colleges and our students translates into value for the business and organizations that rely on hiring our graduates to grow,” Vollebregt said. “Enhanced investments in SLC will help us continue to educate and train professionals and skilled workers for in-demand careers in our region, in virtually every industry in Canada, and around the globe.”