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Here's a breakdown of what the Doug Ford government is changing for Ontario universities and colleges

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The Ontario government announced Monday it would be providing struggling colleges and universities with nearly $1.3 billion in funding while also freezing tuition fees for another three years.

Post-secondary institutions will have the ability to increase tuition for out-of-province domestic students, or Canadians living outside of Ontario, by up to five per cent in 2024-2025.

The government will also make a number of changes through new legislation, which would give the Minister of Colleges and Universities the power to issue directives requiring institutions to provide more information about student costs.

Here’s what you need to know about the Strengthening Accountability and Student Supports Act:

  • The government wants to make costs for textbooks and other learning materials—as well as other ancillary fees—transparent. It’s unclear what this means, but the example provided would be publishing the costs in a course syllabus.
  • Ontario will also consult on creating “tuition fee transparency” so that people have a better idea of how the money is being used.
  • The government would require colleges and universities to have policies in place related to mental health and wellness, as well as policies in place to “combat racism and hate, including but not limited to antisemitism and Islamophobia.” The ministry said it will issue further policy direction about what should be included in policies such as these at a later date.
  • The legislation will also allow colleges to offer applied master’s degrees.
  • As part of the measures, the government will launch a career portal to help students “understand labour market needs.”
  • The province has promised to “integrate” enforcement efforts regarding college oversight and “establish certain core competencies for board members, including financial literacy and risk management.” Very few details have been provided regarding what enforcement efforts the government is referring to.

Here is how the funding will be divided:

  • The majority, about $903 million, will be provided to post-secondary institutions over three years. About $700 million will be in broad-based supports, while $203 million will be for institutions with greater need. The government says factors such as geography, total enrolment and reliance on international enrolment will be taken into account.
  • Another $167.3 million will be provided for capital repairs and equipment.
  • $10 million in additional one-time funding for small, northern and rural grants.
  • $15 million over three years to "support third-party reviews" to find savings
  • $100 million in STEM program supports
  • $65 million to support research and innovation
  • $23 million to enhance mental health supports

The government says the tuition fees, which were reduced by 10 per cent in 2019, have saved students and parents an estimated $1,600 per year for university, and an estimated $350 per year for college.

Colleges Ontario has previously asked for a five per cent bump in tuition as well as a 10 per cent increase in operating grants.

A government-commissioned report also found that Ontario should end its post-secondary tuition freeze and increase per-student funding for universities and colleges. The report also suggested the institutions' dependence on international students, especially the province's colleges, needs to be recognized as a "financial risk."

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