TORONTO – OPSEU/SEFPO hopes the leaders at Ontario’s public colleges don’t ignore recent concerns expressed by the Auditor General about an over reliance on international student tuition for the colleges’ financial viability.

OPSEU/SEFPO President Warren (Smokey) Thomas says management at the colleges and the provincial government also must address a lack of oversight of overseas recruiters as well as the damage caused by privatization.

“I’ve always said privatization is the pay more get less plan,” said Thomas. “Because of privatization, public-private partnerships and chronic underfunding, colleges’ eyes are fixed on their bottom line rather than providing the best-possible education.”

OPSEU/SEFPO represents thousands of faculty and support staff who work in the public colleges.

In her December 1, 2021, report, Bonnie Lysyk criticized colleges for their “risky formula” for long-term financial viability by relying on international tuition, noting the number of overseas students at Ontario’s colleges has risen by 347 per cent since 2012.

The Auditor General also raised serious concerns around the explosive growth of poorly regulated private career colleges and a lack of oversight of public colleges’ recruiting agents.

OPSEU/SEFPO First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida says chronic and historical underfunding by the province is the root of the problem, noting Ontario gives just $10,000 per domestic college student – less than any other province.

“That’s a real and permanent threat to the quality of an Ontario college education, which will also have a ripple effect on the economic recovery of the province,” said Almeida.

“Privatization, lack of oversight and short-sighted management focused on chasing outside sources of revenue are threatening college education,” warned Thomas. “It’s high time the government significantly reinvested in our public college system to ensure its long-term sustainability and success.”

For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931; RM Kennedy, Chair, OPSEU/SEFPO College Faculty Division, 416-346-8382; OPSEUCommunications@opseu.org

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