Above: Ontario’s Minister of Training, Colleges & Universities, Mary Anne Chambers (at the podium), flanked by students and York President & Vice-Chancellor Lorna R. Marsden (right)
Ontario’s Minister of Training, Colleges & Universities, Mary Anne Chambers, chose York last Thursday to make a landmark announcement confirming that the provincial government will freeze college and university tuition for two years, effective immediately.
In a meeting room in the Keele campus’s new Student Services Centre, packed with media, students and York officials as well as representatives of Seneca College, Chambers said the freeze would apply to both regulated and deregulated programs. To offset any loss of revenues, colleges and universities would receive an additional $48.1 million in funding in the first year. There would be further consultations about an amount for the second year.
In coming months, Chambers said, the government will conduct a review with students, parents, industry partners, universities and colleges to develop a long-term plan to ensure “a high-quality, accessible and accountable postsecondary education system for future generations.” She undertook to report on the review by the fall.
“Our government’s first and most important priority is excellence in public education,” she said. “I am confident that by working with the postsecondary community, we can develop a system that is a pillar for the future success of the province, its people and its economy.”
Students in the room whooped and applauded Chambers’ tuition announcement.
York University President and Vice-Chancellor Lorna R. Marsden welcomed the announcement as good news for students, and said the University would examine what specific effect it would have on York’s planning. “We also look forward to participating in the upcoming review, and in making sure that York’s voice is heard, so that we can build a foundation for long-term planning,” she said.
In introducing Chambers, Marsden noted that 50 per cent of high-school leavers in Ontario do not go on to any form of post-secondary education. Chambers later cited Marsden’s point when asked what outcomes she would look for from a revamped system, saying greater participation in postsecondary education could be one of the standards, along with employability.
Chambers said she made her announcement at York’s Keele campus because it also includes a component of a community college, Seneca.