November 16, 2023
On November 15th, 2023 the Blue Ribbon Panel, Chaired by Alan Harrison, submitted their findings on Ensuring Financial Sustainability for Ontario’s Postsecondary Sector to the Minister of Colleges and Universities, Jill Dunlop. The Blue Ribbon Panel’s recommendations were informed by consultations with sector stakeholders representing colleges, universities, students, and other organizations, including the College Student Alliance (CSA).
The Blue Ribbon Panel’s recommendations are designed to guide the Ministry of Colleges and Universities in their pursuit to improve the very challenging financial outlook and longevity of Ontario’s postsecondary institutions. CSA would like to acknowledge the panel for its efficient and thorough work in this regard.
In CSA’s March 2023 presentation to the panel, President Azi Afousi made several key financial recommendations to improve student experience, health and wellbeing, and labour market outcomes. CSA’s six recommendations encompassed: the need to diversify institution’s revenue streams to reduce dependence on both domestic and international tuition, the need to regulate the rate of tuition increase, development and support for Northern community infrastructure, programming, and longevity, and investments that create and support student’s health, well-being, and labour market programming.
While CSA will be completing a more detailed analysis, we are heartened that the recommendations address such key issues as affordability, international students, housing, and unique challenges related specifically to the college experience in Northern Ontario. We would have expected to see more emphasis placed on student well-being, including recommendations that address mental health services and food insecurity, both of which are interrelated outcomes of the aforementioned key primary issues addressed in the panel’s recommendations.
CSA commends the panel for individually addressing the unique factors facing northern, rural, and remote college communities, international students, Indigenous institutions, and FSL and francophone students. We also support the Panel in their acknowledgement that “one size does NOT fit all”. The panel made recommendations that addressed the unique needs of colleges, differentiated from their university counter-parts. While many challenges are similar, colleges, and college students, have different functions, programs, institutional structures, and relationships which can call for different responses.
As outlined previously in CSA’s recommendations to the Panel, investments in postsecondary sustainability and longevity must be accompanied by investments in services which support student learning and well-being, to create a workforce that is not only skilled, but confident and prepared.
CSA very much looks forward to the Ministry of Colleges and Universities' highly anticipated response to the Blue Ribbon Panel’s recommendations, encouraging the Province to carefully consider all policies and programs through a student-centric lens.
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For more information contact:
Azi Afousi, President, College Student Alliance (CSA)
Delaney Groves, Policy & Advocacy Lead, College Student Alliance (CSA)