TORONTO, June 5, 2013 /CNW/ – Ontario universities recognize that changes in the labour market have led to a reduction in publicly funded spaces for teacher education students, but are warning that further cuts to government funding will compromise the quality of teacher education in the province.
The province’s new curriculum is designed to prepare better teacher candidates for the complex challenges they face in classrooms. But the Council of Ontario Universities (COU) calculates that for the same number of students, the province will be providing one-third less funding.
COU is looking to the province, on behalf of students, to ensure that the quality of teacher education can be maintained at the levels currently available, especially because students will now have to pay tuition for an additional year.
The government’s announced directions include a lengthening of the teacher education program and a reduction in the number of graduates. The government has also informed universities that funding for these programs will be significantly reduced.
“A further reduction in operating grants, on top of previously announced government cuts, will diminish – not enhance – the experience for students in our teacher education programs,” says Alastair Summerlee, COU Chair and President of the University of Guelph.
“Reducing government funding for teacher education when Ontario universities are providing top-notch education, despite the country’s lowest rate of per student funding, disadvantages students and threatens quality,” says COU President and CEO Bonnie M. Patterson.
“Ontario universities are already doing more for students with less money than universities in any other province,” Patterson says. “Universities will find it hard to continue to maintain the quality our educators-in-training have traditionally enjoyed.”
Ontario’s teachers are some of the best trained in the country, and many of them use the skills they learn in university education programs to teach in other jurisdictions or outside of the traditional classroom.
COU also seeks a balanced approach to any oversupply of teachers. The labour market shift will not be solved without similar government action to control enrolment offered by out-of-province providers within Ontario. The province needs to limit access for students from these institutions who are seeking the practical part of their education in Ontario.
• Tuition is a critical source of revenue for universities, representing on average 44 per cent of operating revenue.
• The Ontario government cut tuition revenue in March by announcing a tuition cap, moving from an average of five per cent to three per cent.
• Reductions to operating grants for teacher education represent a 33 per cent cut in funding for the same number of students.
• Operating grants for student programs will be reduced by $40 million in 2013-14, and by nearly $80 million the following year.
• Ontario universities receive the lowest grant funding per student in Canada.
COU is a membership organization of 21 publicly assisted universities in Ontario. It works closely with the provincial and federal governments to shape public policies that help universities deliver high-quality programs for students, and the research and innovation that improves the social, cultural and economic well-being of Ontarians.
SOURCE: Council of Ontario Universities
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