Education quality down, fees up

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By Michael Duncan

The quality of education in Ontario has declined over the last year, according to a survey of university staff.

The study was conducted by the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) and surveyed 16,000 university professors and faculty members.

Fifty-seven per cent believed the quality of university education had gone down.

“We see this as a disturbing result and a warning bell to our universities, our governments and our students as we are trying to deliver quality of education to an increasing number of students,” said Mark Langer, OCUFA President & Director CUASA.

This comes at a time when Ontario students are paying the highest average tuition in the country.

The province also boasts one of the highest student to teacher ratios in the country at 26 to 1, compared to the national average of 19 to 1.

But faculty-student ratios do not tell the whole story, according to John Milloy, the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities for Ontario.

“People throw around this faculty-student ratio but I think its hard to translate into the student experience, which is why I am more concerned with how students feel.”

Milloy cited a survey in which 79 per cent of students said they were satisfied with their post-secondary experience.

The OCUFA study also reported 51 per cent of respondents said classes and programs had been cut due to a funding shortage and 55 per cent said class sizes were increasing.

“It is too simple to say that education has declined: rather, it has been transformed, and it is in a state of collapse,” said Stuart Murray, associate professor of rhetoric in Ryerson’s Faculty of Arts.

One of the main reasons for the decline is a lack of funding, with Ontario receiving less than the national average.

Although Ontario’s government has actually increased funding of post secondary education, the boost has been offset by an increase in enrollment in Ontario universities .

“If we want our students to go on to lead useful and productive lives and compete internationally then we need to give them the support that other jurisdictions give them,” said Langer.

Photo: Marta Iwanek

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