Marsden praises budget’s ‘sea-change’ in university funding

York University President and Vice-Chancellor Lorna R. Marsden has welcomed the $6.2 billion package for post-secondary education announced in yesterday’s Ontario provincial budget. “We would like to congratulate the McGuinty government for honouring the vision of the Rae Report and for recognizing the crucial role Lorna R. Marsdenuniversities play in building Ontario’s future,” said Marsden.

Right: Lorna R. Marsden

In all, more than $282 million was added to universities’ operating grants for 2005-06. “This will go some way to address a decade of neglect in this area and the money promised for future years will truly represent a sea-change in university funding,” said Marsden. Over the next five years, the budget calls for a total of $6.2 billion in new spending for colleges, universities and training.

With regard to the $19 million additional funding announced for this year to support graduate enrolment growth, Marsden stated, “As the second-largest graduate faculty in Ontario, we think that it is important that students across Ontario are able to gain access to a first-class graduate education at the institution of their choice.

“Research forms a key part of the graduate student experience and is fundamental to attracting the best students and faculty,” she said. “We are encouraged at the government’s establishment of the Ontario Research Chairs which goes beyond traditional research and into policy-making areas also. We are especially pleased to see the emphasis on the entertainment and creative cluster – a key focus of York’s research portfolio.”

Left: Research is ‘fundamental to attracting the best students and faculty’

Acknowledging Finance Minister Greg Sorbara’s three themes of access, quality and accountability, Marsden noted, “We applaud the Ontario government’s commitment to increasing accessibility to post-secondary education for all students, regardless of their financial situation. We acclaim their call to raise the quality of university education, with emphasis on providing the best possible experience for our students. We also welcome the increased accountability measures announced for all universities, and, at York, we look forward to delivering the best possible education to all our students.”

Right: Greg Sorbara

Sorbara also announced that undergraduate tuition fees would be frozen for 2005 -2006 with the government commencing an immediate consultation process with key stakeholders. While noting that tuition fees represent just one-third of the full cost of a post-secondary education, Marsden said, “We are particularly supportive of containing tuition fees and the increase in student financial assistance because these measures increase access at the most crucial point – to students who need it most.”

The announcement by the government to provide matching funding for student scholarships through the Ontario Trust for Student Support (OTSS) was described by the president as “a crucial step in increasing accessibility for students of all backgrounds. This kind of matching fund has been extremely popular with our donors to the York University Foundation who want to help individual students achieve extraordinary success.” 

For more information, see the Ontario government’s budget page.