Published by Communications and Public Affairs (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338
February 07, 2005
Rae review released, calls for more money, substantive changes
Ontario must increase base funding at its universities and colleges by at least $1.3 billion by 2007/2008 to maintain quality and improve accessibility, and must commit an additional $300 million to overhaul the student assistance program, according to a report released today by former premier Bob Rae.
Rae’s long-awaited review of post-secondary education calls for the government to commit to increased multi-year funding for all students and to restore per-student funding to levels comparable with those of Canada’s other nine provinces and, ultimately, with peer institutions throughout North America. It also proposes introducing grants for students with the greatest financial need. Other priorities include enhancing the undergraduate experience and doubling graduate student enrolment by 2013.
“This is a very welcome report and one that is critical to the future of education in Ontario,” said president Alastair Summerlee. “Bob Rae has provided the province with excellent advice for making substantive, long-term and sustainable improvements to the post-secondary system, including increased investments to enhance accessibility to quality teaching and research programs.”
Summerlee also commended Rae for the “incredible consultation process” that went into producing the report. Rae, along with a seven-panel advisory committee, met with university and college presidents and officials, and held town hall meetings and round-table discussions across the province with students, parents, faculty, staff, alumni and members of the public. He also launched a website, conducted surveys and solicited written comments and feedback.
U of G sent a submission to the Rae panel based on recommendations gathered from the University community. Guelph also provided the Rae panel with its Presidential Task Force on Accessibility to Higher Education report. “We were very pleased to see that many of the recommendations of our task force – including a focus on first-generation university students and up-front grants – were incorporated into Bob Rae’s review,” said Maureen Mancuso, provost and vice-president (academic), who chaired the accessibility task force.
The Rae report also suggested improving collaboration and transferability between universities and colleges. The University of Guelph-Humber was cited in the report as an example of a successful collaborative venture. Rae also stressed the importance of the federal government being a more stable funding partner in post-secondary education.
As well, the report recommended not increasing tuition until the student financial assistance system is overhauled and the provincial government has started to make the recommended new investments.
Even if the recommendations are implemented, added Summerlee, it is unlikely that universities will receive funding increases to cover inflation because of other pressing government priorities. “We are looking at ways the University can continue to improve efficiency to help minimize the effects of inflation, but we also recognize that we will have to cover a significant proportion of these costs for the foreseeable future. That means we have to focus even more on our integrated planning process to determine how to best meet our obligations.”
He said the next step is to engage the University community and the general public in pressing the government for increased support for universities and colleges. “I encourage everyone to write to their elected leaders and to become outspoken advocates for higher education,” he said.
For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, (519) 824-4120, Ext. 53338, or Rebecca Kendall, (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982.