OUSA Responds to the Post-Secondary Education Sustainability Fund and Continuation of Tuition Freeze


February 26, 2024


TORONTO - Earlier today, the Ministry of Colleges and Universities announced a $1.3 billion funding package for post-secondary institutions. The package will include $903 million in stabilization funds for colleges and universities over three years, and top-up funding will be distributed on a by-need basis to institutions that apply. While OUSA is pleased to see the maintenance of the tuition freeze and the addition of funding to post-secondary institutions in need, concerns about the lack of sustainable funding solutions still stand. 

“While we appreciate the continued freeze on tuition increases and welcome the funding package, it’s evident that this allocation falls short in ensuring the sustainability of the sector,” said Vivian Chiem, President of OUSA. “The continued underfunding of the sector, coupled with the federal caps on international students, will exacerbate an already fragile funding model.”


Provincial grants currently only account for 31% of institutional operating budgets and Ontario has the lowest expenditure on post-secondary education nationally. Due to the lack of provincial funding, institutions are forced to rely on student tuition for the remainder of their operating budgets; in particular, the stagnant funding has led institutions to increase international student tuition who pay about six times more than their domestic counterparts at $46,433 and $8,190, respectively. Since the tuition freeze, Ontario’s post-secondary institutions have also doubled their international student enrolment to ensure their sustainability and service delivery. 


In conjunction with the tuition freeze, the Ontario government has done little to maintain the financial health of the post-secondary sector. The Blue Ribbon Panel recommended an estimated $2.5 billion in funding over three years to colleges and universities, two times the amount the Minister announced. Thus, this commitment does little to tackle the serious lack of investments in Ontario’s post-secondary sector and continues to burden students, especially international students, to fund the quality of post-secondary education. With the federal government’s announcement of the caps on international students, this funding package does not do enough to address the long-term needs of institutions, nor does it resolve the chronic underfunding of the sector. Notably, although OUSA has welcomed the tuition freeze to maintain predictability for domestic students in the past, it has not remediated the financial burden on students caused by the reduction in OSAP funding. 

The introduction of the Strengthening Accountability and Student Supports Act, 2024, which, if passed, would authorize the Ministry of Colleges and Universities to issue directives requiring colleges and universities to provide information about ancillary fees and other student costs, is a positive step towards maintaining transparency and accountability. Many students are not made aware of the additional costs associated with courses, such as software and textbooks, which places uncertainty and significant financial burden on students. Therefore, while OUSA is pleased about the intention of this legislation, we also ask that the costs be made available to students prior to course commencement to ensure further transparency and that broader financial statements of institutions are publicly disclosed to students, who should also be given an opportunity to sit on governing bodies of the services funded by ancillary fees. OUSA is also appreciative of the new commitments to mental health funding, and we look forward to learning more about how it will be earmarked for specific improvements to mental health systems on campuses.


OUSA has always advocated for the provincial government to increase operating grants to institutions so that students are contributing no more than a third towards operating revenue. This funding announcement is a step in the right direction; however, we are hopeful that there will be more structural changes to fund Ontario’s post-secondary institutions adequately, and that the Ministry implements the recommendations put forth in the Blue Ribbon Panel to increase per-student funding and operating grants for post-secondary institutions, ensuring that all students are able to afford and access high-quality post-secondary education in Ontario.

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OUSA represents the interests of 160,000 professional and undergraduate, full-time and part-time university students at nine student associations across Ontario. Our vision is for an accessible, affordable, accountable, and high quality post-secondary education in Ontario.


Tiffany Li Wu 

Operations & Communications Coordinator

Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance

[email protected]