Union president critical of new college funding model

 

The province's new model for college funding has been met with criticism by some who are concerned it could negatively impact the quality of education.

Warren Thomas, president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), believes these changes, which would determine funding based on the financial success of graduates, could result in the disappearance of programs throughout Ontario, as well as a reduction in jobs and a decline in the quality of education being offered.

“Just like Walmart decimated the main streets of so many Ontario communities and the livelihoods of so many workers, this plan will destroy Ontario’s beloved college system,” Thomas said in a news release. “The Minister is forcing the colleges to focus on fighting each other instead of providing the best education to as many students as possible.

“Smaller colleges will be under tremendous pressure and students will suffer, especially those interested in social services and other fields where salaries tend to be lower and where demand, as witnessed by this pandemic, is high,” he continued. “Fortunately, this disastrous plan doesn’t take effect for two years. That’s two years for the government to listen to reason and reverse course on this ham-fisted attempt to compare academics to an athletic playing field.”

According to Ross Romano, Minister of Colleges and Universities, this new format would provide funding for colleges based on several metrics including efficiencies and the amount students earn after graduating.

This differs from the previous format that saw colleges receive funding based on the number of students enrolled.

“We all know that ‘efficiencies’ is a code word for front-line cuts and lower-quality programs,” Eduardo Almeida, first vice-president and treasurer of OPSEU, said in the same release. “And basing funding on graduate earnings has an implied bias towards larger post-secondary institutions giving those schools a home-field advantage where jobs are more plentiful.

“What will happen to programs for ‘caring professions’ like DSWs and PSWs where the salaries tend to be lower. And how will these metrics apply to international students?” he continued.

Almeida added that collecting the data from these new metrics will add unnecessary expenses that would be better spent on students' education.

"Our colleges and universities are meant to give students a broad understanding of an industry so that they can go out and build a decent career. But a system based on micro-credentials just sets them up for a life struggling from one part-time contract to the next," RM Kennedy, college faculty division chair for OPSEU, said.

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