The McGuinty government announced plans for the expansion of post-secondary education as part of the 2010 Ontario Budget released last Thursday.
Noteworthy budget commitments included $310 million in funding to create 20,000 new spaces in universities and colleges. The government also pledged to provide resources for a credit transfer system in the province.
For many students, this came as a victory after years of tireless advocating.
“As a main component of our agenda, we’ve been working for 10 years now to secure (extra spaces in universities and colleges) into the budget,” said Justin Fox, president of the College Student Association. “We also couldn’t be any happier with the other commitments made by our government.”
Hamid Osman, the Ontario representative for the Canadian Federation of Students, noted the positives of the budget, which included 50 per cent more space for international students, but said some Ontario students’ concerns were not addressed.
Nowhere in the budget is there mention of the tuition fee policy or changes to student financial assistance, he said.
“We’re looking at the last couple weeks of school for post-secondary students, so it’s important for students to know about tuition fees to prepare for next year,” said Osman. “They can’t be left hanging,”
Like Osman, Fox noted that the availability of more spots would also have to include a plan to make tuition for these spots affordable.
“The government may be on a high right now from all the positive feedback on the budget they’ve received,” said Fox, “but they still have questions to answer.”
Fox also said that under the new budget, funding for the Second Career program will continue. The program provides financial assistance for recently laid-off workers to train in college. Funding worth $600 million is to be set aside over two years for an additional 30,000 Second Career students.
“It’s great to see education being held in such high regard,” said Fox. “I know students will be thrilled by Ontario’s push to stay competitive on a global scale.”