Excerpts from "Ontario: A Leader in Learning"
Creating a sustainable framework
“Some will argue that quality and high standards are incompatible with the desire to make education more accessible. Others may contend that the central goal of social inclusiveness should trump “elitist” concerns about excellence, that Ontario can afford a pretty good system, but not one that achieves greatness.
“Each of these views is wrong. We need governments and institutions that are irrevocably committed to access for every Ontarian who is qualified to attend. Because the new economy demands it, the number of people attending will need to rise substantially in the years ahead. We also need governments and institutions that are unwaveringly committed to excellence in teaching and research. Opportunity and excellence are both diminished when governments and students spend less than they should, or when institutions are reluctant to focus and insist on better outcomes. Ontario has the chance now to muster the political will to create a sustainable framework for a system that allows each student, and each university and college, to be at their best. Our higher education institutions should both inspire and produce leading research. Our best will allow us to compete with the best in the world. We should not settle for anything less.”
Growing research and innovation
“There has been considerable discussion, both at the federal and provincial levels, about the need to encourage the commercialization of research. This is important, but it must be borne in mind that basic research remains fundamental to the mission of higher education. If the universities don’t pursue it, it is hard to know who will. Nobel Prize winner John Polanyi has often pointed out that it is the breakthroughs in basic science that eventually find their way to commercial use. These breakthroughs may not be immediately apparent but their long-term impacts are profound.”
Design and accountability
“With respect to the design of the system, my recommendations reflect the need to reconcile three objectives: institutional independence and diversity, the need for greater co-ordination and clearer pathways for students, and accountability to the public to ensure that money is being spent wisely. All three principles are important. A strongly centralized approach, such as we have seen in the past, will not work well in the years ahead. Autonomous, flexible institutions working within a framework of public accountability is a better direction.”
Funding all students
“I am firmly committed to the principle that there should be no more “unfunded students,” and that this practice should be ended in 2005-06.”
Tuition costs: predictability, transparency and affordability
“Both the government and the institutions have a role in tuition. It is important to be precise on what they are. The government should not set tuition levels but should establish the regulatory framework that ensures predictability, transparency and affordability for students. The institutions must clearly retain ultimate responsibility for tuition levels of individual programs. In doing so, the regulatory framework should require that – in the context of multi-year plans – the institutions publicly commit to and be held to account for both the tangible quality improvements that students will see for increases in tuition, and adequate financial support for students in need.
“The tuition revenue requirements of the institutions will be substantially tempered over the next three years if the Ontario government accepts my recommendations for funding. But the weight of evidence clearly points to the need to shift the locus of the tuition decision from central planning to the individual institutions. Students have significant choices in higher education in Ontario. The age of “one size, one price fits all” should be over.”
To share your views please reply to Paul.Davenport@uwo.ca
This page was last updated on
February 8, 2005
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