Ontario’s Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities has introduced a new set of tuition billing regulations that will begin taking effect in the 201415 academic year. The changes are expected to be fully implemented by 2016.

The new policy, announced in December 2013, states that all post-secondary students in Ontario will be able to pay tuition per term without having to pay deferral fees. Tuition payments for a fall term cannot be due before August, and students who apply for the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) by the beginning of August will not have to pay tuition before receiving their financial aid.

In response to the policy, the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) and the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario (CFS-Ontario) commended the ministry but also flagged some concerns.

“One thing we need to note is that we’ve heard from many university presidents that with these fees gone, there’s going to be less money in the system,” said Amir Eftekarpour, president of OUSA and vp external of the University Students’ Council at Western University.

“We definitely don’t want students to experience a lower quality of education because of this. There needs to be some discussion around ensuring that there is a funded reduction of these fees,” he said.

Another issue of contention, flat-fee tuition billing, will be more regulated but not altogether eliminated.

The ministry has committed to raising the current 60 per cent threshold to 70 per cent in 2015, then to 80 per cent by 2016. Students with disabilities will not be charged flat-fee tuition.

While some have argued that flat-fee billing provides institutions with a more predictable revenue stream and encourages students to finish their degrees sooner, student representatives have strongly criticized the model for charging some students for education they do not receive.

“From a student perspective, we very much advocate for full per-credit tuition and that there needs to be some way to find funding for it so it can happen in the short term. Unfortunately, given the economic reality, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of money floating around the province,” Eftekarpour said.

Eight universities in the province currently charge flat-fees above the 60 per cent threshold. The University of Toronto is the only university in Ontario charging flat-fee tuition to students taking 60 per cent of a course load. With the new policy, the U of T could see a $16 million annual loss in revenue, the university’s president told the Toronto Star in anticipation of an increased threshold.

The CFS-Ontario, which also lobbied for the elimination of flat fees and deferral fees, had further recommended that institutions be prohibited from charging interest on unpaid balances and deposits on tuition.

With the new rules, students will continue to be charged late fees and interest if they are unable to pay by per-term deadlines. Institutions will be allowed to charge deposits on tuition, but they will be capped at $500 or 10 per cent of tuition, whichever is greater.

“Unfortunately, some of the proposals provide new opportunities for institutions to burden students with additional costs,” said CFS-Ontario chairperson Alastair Woods in a release. “Students will continue to advocate at the institutional and provincial levels to end these and other unfair fee practices.”

The ministry’s new policy also eliminates graduation fees but does not address ancillary and online testing fees. Both the CFS-Ontario and OUSA have maintained that students should not pay to be evaluated through learning software.

“The ministry didn’t say that [online testing fees] are okay now. It certainly was a difficult discussion about what the best solution is,” Eftekarpour said. “I think it’s unfortunate that student unions will now have to engage with their universities to hammer out some sort of process for all of this. We really wish it was just maintaining that these aren’t allowed.”

“Just to clarify, we’re not at all against the online testing materials,” he added. “It’s really good quality software and it’s a great learning experience. Students just can’t pay to be tested to use it, that’s just against our principles.”

This article was first published on the Canadian University Press's newswire.

Several student unions in Ontario have joined the campaign to raise the minimum wage to $14. Anti-poverty groups proposed the minimum wage hike in March this year as part of their ‘Fair Wages Now’ campaign.

Alastair Woods, chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students (Ontario), said members voted unanimously in their August general meeting to support the cause. Leading up to Nov. 14, a designated day of action, students joined community groups in voicing their concerns to local politicians.

“The last time we had a minimum wage increase was in 2010. Since then, the cost of education and living has gone up significantly,” Woods said. “The $14 [was determined] through community consultation to bring full-time workers about 10 per cent over the poverty line.”

Guled Arale, VP (external) for the University of Toronto’s Scarborough Campus Student Union, has been working with community groups to advocate for a $14 minimum wage.

“We had a forum a few weeks ago with 200 to 250 people in Scarborough and it was really good to see that many people working on this issue - not all of them were students, but many were parents of students,” Arale said.

Arale said a minimum wage hike would help students earn a living wage, particularly those working in casual or part-time positions while in school.

“Every year, the cost of living goes up for students, but a lot of students who do work minimum wage don't see their wages increase,” he said.

In a similar vein, Carleton University’s Graduate Students’ Association recently supported the hike in a presentation to the Ontario government’s minimum wage advisory panel. The panel was formed in the summer and will advise the province on future minimum wage increases.

“A lot of graduate students work as a TA or RA and take other jobs on the side,” said Lauren Montgomery, VP (external) of the Carleton GSA. “If the minimum wage were to be $14, grad students could take on less part-time jobs and put more into their schoolwork and teaching.”

She also mentioned the mounting pressure graduate students face in terms of rising tuition, debt load and, in many cases, childcare costs.

Along with groups such as the Workers’ Action Centre, the CFS-Ontario has submitted recommendations to the province’s advisory panel.

“Just two decades ago, a student could work full-time at minimum wage over the summer at 35 hours a week for 9 weeks, and pay off a year’s worth of undergraduate tuition fees. Today, it would take at least 20 weeks at minimum wage...more weeks than are in the summer,” CFS-Ontario’s submission states.

According to Statistics Canada, 60 per cent of minimum wage workers are under 25 years old, and of those youth workers, 44 per cent aged 20 to 24 attend school.

In a leaked framework proposal, the province expressed an urgent need for universities and colleges to further specialize in niche areas. The Ontario government sent the draft to administrators, seeking clarification on strategic enrolment plans and feedback on metrics tied to funding.

The leaked document, entitled “Ontario’s Proposed Differentiation Policy Framework: Draft Discussion Paper” and marked confidential, comes on the heels of expected changes to the post-secondary sector by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.

The document stresses the need “to protect the gains of the last 10 years” in the face of current fiscal challenges.

The Ministry stated that it “has opted for differentiation as a primary policy driver for the system” and outlined eight components under which institutions can be evaluated. The components range from teaching and learning to innovation and economic development.

The government also proposed evaluation metrics to be used in funding considerations, based on discussions with various stakeholders since 2012. Some metrics include teaching-only faculty, student employment outcomes, employer satisfaction, research productivity and distribution of credentials.

Already, the proposed framework is raising questions about institutional autonomy and student impact, particularly for those living in northern and rural areas.

On Sept. 24, OPSEU, a union which represents more than 8,000 college faculty, requested that joint task forces be set up “to both mitigate the negative impact of any changes on faculty, but also to achieve the changes to the objectives.”

Since roundtable discussions began last year, CFS-Ontario and OCUFA have expressed concerns about differentiation being a cost-saving measure. OUSA has cautioned that teaching and research should not be separated in the differentiation process.

In response to recent concerns, TCU minister Brad Duguid said, “We [the province] will not be micromanaging but we do have a stewardship role.” He said the province would “use funding mechanisms to drive change in the system.”

“If there’s a world-class institution doing something in one area and another institution down the road wants to get in on it, that doesn’t really make sense,” he said.

Duguid also emphasized the importance of “building a culture of innovation and entrepreneurialism.”

“Some of our institutions are doing a tremendous job [of doing that]. We need to encourage that because it’s going to benefit graduates in any field.”

For McMaster University, a large-sized school with approximately 24,000 full-time students, one challenge will be to reconcile high research intensity with a student-centred approach - two facets that have been identified as equally important in the University’s 2011 “Forward With Integrity” mandate. With greater differentiation, it remains to be seen how the university will effectively balance the two priorities.

McMaster’s provost, David Wilkinson, said the proposed framework is not surprising but it is unclear how the province will move forward in terms of funding.

“It’s too early to tell what the impacts [of the framework] might be,” Wilkinson said. “It’s certainly a competitive process and it does force us to demonstrate to the ministry how we can be more effective than other universities. It will also provide certain avenues for collaboration.”

Like other Ontario universities, McMaster is already differentiated to an extent—for example, the University is well known for its school of medicine and flagship interdisciplinary programs.

Laurentian University, a smaller institution in Sudbury with a total of 9,700 students, has also been setting itself apart from other institutions. Laurentian released its strategic plan in 2012, outlining the University’s distinctive programs, including mining engineering, sports psychology and applied geophysics.

Laurentian president Dominic Giroux said the university has looked to expand programs that aren’t readily available elsewhere.

“When I first came in [Apr. 2009], the strategic plan was 16 pages and had 102 priorities – I wanted the board of governors to submit to us a report of no more than five pages to identify a limited number of signature programs in research excellence. It took us about 10 months. What came out loud and clear at the initial stage was the need to focus, focus, focus,” Giroux said.

“Differentiation shouldn’t lead to program expansions or closures - it’s an issue of where more space should be allocated,” Giroux said.

By Oct. 11, administrators are expected to respond to the government’s proposed framework. The government stated it would provide a finalized framework by late October.

While various groups have been consulted since 2012, the government will negotiate only with institutions about metrics and funding. Universities’ strategic mandate agreements will be under negotiation until spring 2014.

Photo by Halley Requena-Silva/Courtesy the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario.

The Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities is set to implement big changes to Ontario’s post-secondary education sector over the next six months. TCU minister Brad Duguid said he expects greater differentiation between institutions, more e-learning opportunities and easier credit transfers.

Duguid met with student and faculty groups over the summer to discuss reforms proposed by the ministry. The ministry has now entered the decision-making stage.

“My sense is that there is recognition among all student groups and faculty groups that, if we just go on the way we are now, given the fiscal environment, it’s not sustainable,” Duguid said.

The province is expected to make announcements addressing three key issues in the next six months.

Online education

The province has proposed an Ontario Online Initiative that would take a consortium or “centre of excellence” approach to providing more e-learning opportunities.

“I expect this fall we will be moving forward with a strategy that will help make Ontario a leader in this area,” Duguid said.

In February 2012, a leaked policy paper from the ministry, suggesting that students should be able to take three of five courses online, drew criticism from several student and faculty groups. Groups responded by raising concerns over reduced quality of education through e-learning.

“It seems now that the government has backed away from a degree-granting institution. Students pushed back on that very strongly,” said Alastair Woods, CFS-Ontario chairperson.

“Online education should only be pursued as a means to provide more access to distance education, not as a cost-saving measure,” said Rylan Kinnon, director of the Ontario Undergraduate Student Association (OUSA). “We feel the government understands that and is making progress.”

Kinnon said OUSA has recommended extended hours for online student support and online credit transfers.

“Having credit transfer is a central aspect of it–students need to know that their [online] course will apply to their program in their home institution,” Kinnon said.


Duguid said the province will continue to push for greater differentiation between Ontario’s colleges and universities “to stay competitive in the global economy.”

“We can no longer afford to have a system that is organically developing based on whatever preferences the institutions may have. We can’t have duplication in the system,” he said.

With greater differentiation, institutions are encouraged to grow preferentially in areas they already excel in, so that each institution can be assessed by specific performance indicators.

OCUFA, which represents 17,000 university faculty and librarians, released its response to the Ministry’s discussion guide, raising concerns over rhetoric and some proposed reforms.

“We don’t really know what ‘differentiation’ means,” said Kate Lawson, OCUFA president. “If it means students in any part of the province can access high quality aspects of education they want, we can support that. But we’re concerned that the government might look at it as a cost-saving mechanism.”

“From OCUFA’s point of view, universities in Ontario are underfunded and need reliable baseline funding,” Lawson said.

OCUFA has stated that it will not support using institutional performance against the goals outlined in the SMAs [strategic mandate agreements] to determine allocations of public funding.

“We believe such a system [imposes] a punitive hierarchy of “winners” and “losers,” OCUFA stated.

Credit transfer

While Duguid did not confirm or deny that the consortium established between seven universities last year will be expanded, he said a more fluid system is one of his priorities.

“I see no reason why, in the coming years, courses can’t be fully transferable across Ontario institutions,” Duguid said.

Kinnon said OUSA supports the ministry’s push for more course-mapping (institutions trying to match each other’s popular courses) as well as putting standards in place for appeals, residence requirements, and minimum grade requirements.

OUSA has also cautioned that rural and northern institutions should have a breadth of offerings since distance is a greater factor for those students.

“Up until now the ministry and the sector have done a lot of good work on college-to-university credit transfer. Now we need to focus on university-to-university transfer,” Kinnon said.

This article was also published on the Canadian University Press's newswire

The provincial government announced a new tuition framework last Thursday that allows Ontario universities to increase tuition fees by an average of 3 per cent starting this year.

Though the number is down from the previous framework’s 5 per cent allowance, groups including OUSA, CFS-Ontario and the MSU aren’t satisfied with any increases above inflation.

“It is disappointing that the provincial government has not tied tuition to a more fundamentally fair rate of inflation,” said Huzaifa Saeed, VP (education) of the MSU in a release.

“However, I respect the fact that the old framework was not continued, despite pressure from academic institutions to do just that.”

The new tuition framework will be in place for four years, and the 3 per cent limit on tuition increases applies to most full-time arts and science and college programs. The increase is above Ontario’s average rate of inflation, which is 2 per cent over 10 years.

Tuition for professional and graduate university programs and high-demand college programs are allowed to increase by up to 5 per cent, down from 8 per cent.

According to Saeed, the MSU will now divert its efforts to lobbying for more government investment in the financial aid system. Specifically, the MSU will advocate for eligibility expansion for the 30 off tuition grant and a lower debt cap on the Ontario Student Opportunity Grant.

In a statement responding to the Province’s announcement, OUSA says the new framework “makes progress” toward a more affordable system but has not adopted key recommendations made by students.

OUSA recommended last fall that the government freeze tuition for at least a year and increase per-student funding at the rate of inflation.

CFS-Ontario recommended this past February that tuition fees be reduced by 30 per cent over the next three years.

Ronald Leung / Silhouette Staff

CFS-BC moves to expel University of Victoria Students’ Society

The Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) British Columbia chapter has voted to expel the University of Victoria Students’ Society (UVSS), citing unpaid fees and UVSS’s departure from national CFS as reasons for expulsion. UVSS students are still considered members of the CFS-BC until the winter session is over. The fees in question total to approximately $160,000, and according to the CFS-BC, are part of an alleged underpayment  from over a decade ago.

UBC futures market facilitates student bets on provincial elections

UBC business professor Werner Antweiler has been running an elections futures market since 1993, hoping to teach students about long- and short-selling – and how to predict election outcomes. The real-world elections futures market is currently trading heavily on this spring’s upcoming provincial election. Students participating in Antweiler’s market are able to buy and sell commodities as they please, resulting in reasonably accurate results in the past. In the 2008 federal election, the Conservative seat prediction traded steadily at just above 40 per cent, and on Election Day they picked up 36 per cent of the seats.

Introduction of scholarship benefits students with ADD/ADHD

Shire Canada, a biopharmaceutical company that focuses on attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is creating a scholarship program for Canadian adults suffering from the disorder. It will be introduced this upcoming September and will not only include financial support for tuition, but also one year of ADHD coaching. Consideration for the scholarship is open to students that have been diagnosed by a physician and are actively seeking treatment for the disorder. The scholarship is available to students in Alberta, Ontario, and Quebec. A minimum of one student per province will be selected and a total of five spots are available.

Laurier professor addresses shaky job market for young Canadians

Communications professor Greig de Peuter at Wilfrid Laurier University is readying students for careers that could be far more precarious than in his “Work and Cultural Industries” class. Bringing in guest speakers such as Nicole Cohen, founder of Shameless Magazine, is part of Peuter’s plan to illustrate short-term contract  and non-permanent working conditions. Cohen speaks with personal experience, referencing her own shaky unemployment after completing her undergraduate degree when she worked freelance for some time. Students praise this pessimistic, yet realistic view of the job market.

New Ryerson Student’s Union policy passes without challenge

The Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) quickly adopted a new policy which will ensure the empowerment of women’s voices on campus: rejecting the concept of misandry – the hatred or fear of men. This came right on the tail of the attempts of a new group trying to start up the creation of a men’s issues group. Students involved in this group object to the new policy, saying that the group is not anti-feminist, but rather seeks to discuss men’s issues on campus, including misandry.

Ronald Leung/ Silhouette Staff

U of A next in line for spending cuts

After last week’s announcement of massive spending cuts by the University of Saskatchewan, the University of Alberta is the next school to report budget constraints, facing a structural deficit of $12 million and possible cuts to the province’s funding. With bad news on the horizon, the U of A has no choice but to implement reductions. The first response by the governing board is to implement program cuts and increase fundraising initiatives, especially from alumni. The administration declared that they have no intention of instituting a hiring freeze.

U of O students raise puppies for the blind

The University of Ottawa has responded to the Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind (CGDB) after the group reached out looking for students to temporarily house puppies who will be trained to become guide dogs. Starting in 1984, CGDB has nurtured over 700 seeing-eye dogs and in 2010 they expanded their services to also provide canines for other mobility-related disorders. Steven Doucette, CGDB special events manager, says that the idea behind the Puppy Walking Program is for volunteers to raise a ‘good dog’ and teach basic obedience and socialization.

Wilfred Laurier holds $4 million of WLUSU debt

The Wilfred Laurier University Students’ Union (WLUSU) has racked up a debt load of $4,250,156 to Wilfred Laurier University according to a 2012 auditor’s report. Although the WLUSU streams most of their board meetings, financial issues often carry heavy confidential baggage, preventing live cameras of those particular discussions. The auditor’s report also noted a 54 per cent fall in revenue for the WLUSU in 2012, from $14,497,956 in 2011 to $7,890,159. Roly Webster, WLUSU executive director, says that the board is going through a budget process and that this situation should not impact services provided to students.

Canadian Federation of Students fights blood donor policy

A detailed questionnaire preludes every donor session, but the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) feels that the male-donor specific question “Have you had sex with a man, even one time since 1977?” is outdated. If the answer is yes, potential donors will be turned away. This strict policy originates from Canadian Blood Services and Héma-Québec, the two groups responsible for blood collection in Canada. The CFS feels that this policy is outdated and discriminatory, without any further differentiation for usage of protection or a male’s knowledge of his sexual partner’s background being accounted for.

Memorial University investigates possibility of law school

Without any law schools in Newfoundland, Memorial University (MUN) located in St. John’s is studying the feasibility of introducing one by looking at the demand of lawyers, demographics of current law schools and the benefits this move would bring to MUN. The university originally examined the possibility 25 years ago, but the 1976 Harris Report stated that there was no need for a law school at MUN. The Newfoundland and Labrador branch of the Canadian Bar Association and the Law Foundation of Newfoundland support this current review into the possibility of a law school.

Event draws limited student participation

Ryan Sparrow

On Oct. 23, representatives from the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) - Ontario, the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) - Ontario, and McMaster faculty member, Peter Graefe, all spoke out against the purposed changes to the sector. Also on the panel was NDP politician, Theresa Armstrong who is the NDP critic for the Ministry of Training, Colleges and University (MTCU).

The panel was organized by the NDP Riding Associations of Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale and Hamilton Centre. The event was attended by approximately 40 people.

Janice Folk-Dawson, Chair of the Ontario University Workers Coordination Committee of CUPE- Ontario criticized the Ministry’s plans and called “for the establishment of a true consultation process with wide ranging discussions including chronic underfunding to post-secondary institutions and a discussion of tuition and auxiliary fees.”

Peter Graefe, a Political Science professor, criticized the three semester a year plan stating, “As much as people think I’m at home sunbathing myself during those [summer] months, I’m here most days involved in work related to research.”

He also addressed the Ministry’s suggestion about three-year degrees, and said, “Three year degrees, is there a demand for that? We have been seeing three year degrees shut down across the province for a lack of demand for a variety of reasons.”

“When we talk about scarce public resources we have to realise that it is a myth, the income tax for people making over 500,000 dollars was introduced and next thing you know we got an extra 500 million in revenue” said Mike Yam, CFS-Ontario researcher.

“I know a lot of labour unions and progressive economists talk about reversing corporate tax cuts; for sure if they were back to 2009 levels we’d have an extra two billion plus dollars in government coffers that could provide for all undergraduates in Ontario to go to school for free.”

Theresa Armstrong, the NDP Critic for MTCU, gave a uniformly scripted speech, which provided little insight into the Ontario New Democrat’s plans outside of re-stating their election promises.

Dan Fahey, a third-year Integrated Science student, felt upset with the lack of a comprehensive vision presented by the NDP stating that he, “felt underwhelmed by Theresa Armstrong’s performance, when the stakes are so high with the attack to education that we are facing.”

“I thought Mike Yam said the right things. That we need to build solidarity between students and staff on campus and it’s going to take a lot of work.”


Student and faculty groups in Ontario don’t like what the government has in store for the future of post-secondary education.

In response to a recent discussion paper by the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU), several groups say they do not agree with Minister Glen Murray’s proposed reforms.

Key issues raised by student leaders include government intrusion in post-secondary education, tuition hikes, a rapid shift toward technology-based education and incentivization of entrepreneurial learning.

The Canadian Federation of Students - Ontario (CFS Ontario) and the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) are among those concerned about a perceived ‘unprecedented intrusion’ of government in the post-secondary sector.

“People who are in the best position to determine what's best for students are students themselves, faculty members and university administrators,” said Graeme Stewart, communications manager at OCUFA. “We want to keep decision-making power with [those parties].”

The MTCU’s discussion paper, entitled “Strengthening Ontario’s Centres of Creativity, Innovation and Knowledge” was drafted this past summer. To the dismay of student leaders, the paper was written without student consultation and publicized in late August during the back-to-school rush.

The paper comes on the heels of a controversial leaked policy paper in February, tentatively entitled "3 Cubed." The leaked document suggested that universities should increase efficiency by offering more three-year degrees and allowing students to get more than half their credits online.

MTCU’s recent summer discussion paper acknowledges a rapidly changing post-secondary education sector and the need for Ontario institutions to respond.

Though the proposal outwardly rejects efficiency-focused strategies to curb costs, it also aligns itself with the trend of "high quality outcome-based credentials" becoming the norm.

The report says “cost reductions and the elimination of redundancies are essential parts of our government’s fiscal plan,” but these are not enough to meet the fiscal challenges.

In the long term, the Ministry sees “adopting innovation in the sector to drive productivity” as the other half of the equation.

One proposed reform, a simpler credit transfer system, has already been implemented in a recent partnership between seven universities and has generally been well received.

“Credit transfer, online learning, different experiential options - these are all good things. Our concern is that the government seems to be saying: we’re going to tell you what to do, when to use online learning, when to use learning technologies, when to do co-op,” said Stewart.

There are several shared concerns put forward by CFS Ontario and OCUFA, showing overlap between student and faculty reactions to the Ministry's proposal.


Underfunded Ontario PSE sector

Respondents pointed to the fact that Ontario’s post-secondary sector is the least funded in the nation. Per-student funding currently stands at $8,349, which is 34 per cent below the national average, according to a 2011 Statistics Canada report.

“The underfunding problem is decades old in Ontario,” said Stewart, who cited Ontario’s per-student funding as the primary reason for a higher student-faculty ratio.

By 2009, Ontario’s ratio of students to full-time faculty was nearly seven per cent higher than the national average, according to a separate report by Stats Canada. Today, there are roughly 27 students for every professor in Ontario.

“This means students can’t have the same face-to-face interaction, professors aren’t as available, students find themselves in larger classes and they have fewer course choices. It also means universities don’t have the money to restore their older buildings,” said Stewart.


Higher rate of tuition increase

“When the government allows per-student funding to decrease, that puts pressure on institutions to increase tuition fees because they have to replace that revenue,” said Stewart.

This year, tuition fees across the nation have risen at more than three times the rate of inflation. Student and faculty representatives argue that this would create a more elite system and diminish accessibility to higher education.

“I don’t think we can say that right now, or even a couple of years ago, tuition fees were at the right place and we should increase rates with inflation,” said Sarah Jayne King, chairperson of CFS Ontario.

“Tuition fees are beyond the point where we can simply freeze them and be happy with that," said King.

CFS Ontario has drafted two tuition fee proposals for the most recent provincial budget that would have tuition fees reduced immediately by 25 per cent.


Emphasis on performance-based funding and incentivization

CFS Ontario criticized the proposal’s emphasis on ‘entrepreneurial learning’ and the practice of subsidizing private sector research via the post-secondary education system.

In their response, CFS Ontario asserts that “promoting the creation of business incubators or incentivizing entrepreneurial education in the province’s public colleges and universities does not facilitate knowledge, innovation or creativity.”

OCUFA similarly criticized the provincial government’s ‘performance funding’ model, saying it “makes quality improvement impossible” and unfairly punishes students.

“I don’t think the minister has a totally clear idea of what he wants yet, but our concern is that the recommendations in the paper tend to push the [post-secondary education] system toward this kind of labour market focus,” said Stewart.


Using technology as a cost-saving measure

“Students are concerned that online courses are going to be implemented as a cost-saving measure, when we know that to actually produce a high-quality online education is quite expensive,” said King.

There have been no concrete proposals put forward yet mandating that three out of five courses be online, said King, referring to the contents of the leaked ‘3 Cubed’ ministry document earlier this year.

However, she said there is continued concern among students that the education sector is headed in this direction.


The ministry asked that formal responses to the discussion paper be sent in by Sept. 30. Respondents include CFS (national), COPE, COU and OPSEU.

King and Stewart said they don’t know of any definitive timeline for a response from the Ministry, but representatives continue to be open to discussions with the government while awaiting a follow-up.

Sarah Jayne King, Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students, was at McMaster on Sept. 19 to support student activism on the campus.

King gathered in the location where the Occupy McMaster movement has begun to re-establish their headquarters in the Student Centre. She was on campus to support the Occupy students but moreover to promote student activism on campus.

King came to campus specifically to attend the Education Town Hall this past Wednesday. The town hall meetings were taking place on campuses across Ontario in order to address student issues surrounding tuition fee increases and quality of education. The goal of the town halls is to seek student feedback to be submitted directly to the provincial government.

”There’s a movement across Ontario to seek more student input on the issues that are affecting students, especially as the government is in the process of making significant changes to our education systems… and has not been doing a lot to hear from students directly about what they actually think about these changes.”

Although McMaster is a member of the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA), not CFS, King stated her interest in working with students across the province, regardless of their student union’s affiliation, to address their concerns about current issues in education.

“The reality is… students need to be represented, to voice their opinion when it comes to education issues [or] to other campaigns and movements going on. I’m happy to help where there’s that appetite… and I know that it exists on a lot of campuses.”

King also noted the upcoming Ontario Student Activist Assembly at University of Toronto (St. George Campus) on October 12 and 13. The province-wide assembly aims to bring together hundreds of students to share experiences and engage in issue-based workshops to strengthen student activism in Ontario.

“Students are really worried that these changes [to our education systems] are ways to cut costs. All the while the government has been increasing tuition fees for the past seven years and we have nothing to show for it in terms of quality [of education].”

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