McGuinty’s solutions aren’t in China

Tuition out-of-control, system unstable, and Ontario wants to bring in more students

A series of tweets earlier today from Ontario MPP Jim Wilson make a valid point about the direction Premier Dalton McGuinty is taking post-secondary education in the province.

In Hong Kong on Wednesday, the premier announced the new Ontario Trillium Scholarship, which will see 75 international students receive $40,000 annually for four years to study towards a post-doctorate in Ontario. New students will be added each year, with 300 receiving the scholarship at the program’s height. Taxpayers will be shelling out $20 million of the $30-million project, while universities are planning to kick in the rest.

“Foreign students win while Ontario students get left behind. McGuinty has clearly lost touch,” tweeted Wilson, the Progressive Conservative critic for colleges, universities, research and innovation. “While Ontario families struggle to pay for school, electricity, auto insurance and sales tax hikes, the McGuinty Government is focussed on paying the tuition of students who don’t even live in this country, let alone this province.”

Both the PCs and the provincial NDP are calling on the government to scrap this program immediately. NDP leader Andrea Horwath says the program is unfair to Ontario students.

“It’s quite disconcerting,” she told the Toronto Sun, adding that Ontario students already pay the highest fees in the country. “I have concerns when we have students here in Ontario that are not able to access post-secondary education because of the skyrocketing cost . . . I think [the program] needs to be reviewed.”

This new program is not only a slap in the face to students studying in the province, but it’s also an insult to the taxpayers. Rather than educate the next generation of Ontarians, McGuinty’s program is saying that bringing in international students, who may or may not stick around long enough to contribute to the economy, is more important.

McGuinty’s Liberals just authorized universities to raise tuition by five per cent per year for the next two years. That’s more than twice inflation. Costs for post-secondary students in the province are spiralling out of control, and all the government can think to do is inject more students into an unstable system.

If Dalton wants to help post-secondary education in Ontario, he would be better off investing that money in reducing costs for all students and introducing legislation that will help curb steadily rising costs to students, which have risen 60 per cent in the past ten years, and more than 380 per cent in the past twenty years.

The system is broken, and it’s going to take more than a few dozen foreign students to fix it.

Photo: Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, Canadian Press