Opening space for grad students

Putting students first: this was the message put forth by the Ontario government in the release of their new strategy to improve post-secondary education. By increasing spaces in master’s and doctorate programs, and also improving access to education through better funding, the future of students in Ontario institutions is becoming a priority.

In a release from the Ontario University Student Alliance (OUSA), Sean Madden, WLUSU Vice President of University Affairs and President of OUSA, said that

“Undergraduate students also have had concerns with the balance between teaching and research in our universities, and welcome the plan’s emphasis on recognizing teaching excellence alongside research excellence.”

As many students face barriers of funding and bureaucratic red tape, both the strategy and upcoming electoral promises seem to be brightening the future for all. The changes in funding to universities is said to shift the focus from enrolment growth to quality education, by providing incentives to universities who choose to improve their institutional strengths.

More spaces in research-based and professional graduate programs in fields such as engineering, health and environmental studies will increase the province’s competitive position globally, according to a news release from the Ontario Government.

To accomplish this, the Ontario government is creating more spaces for graduate students: 6,000 new spaces in master’s and PhD programs in universities across the province by 2016. John Milloy, Minister of Training,

Colleges and Universities, said in a release from the Ontario Government, “In today’s knowledge-based economy, it is vital that Ontario continues to support advanced research and develop a highly educated and skilled workforce. By helping more Ontarians pursue higher education; we can strengthen our economy and our future.”

As an Ontario election looms this October, both the Ontario PC and Green Parties have addressed the issues of higher education. Lowering the expected parental contribution amounts to Ontario Student Assistance Program applicants, increasing transfer credit co-operation between universities and colleges, and focusing on student employment seem to be the main themes between the two party platforms.

This is all good news for parents along with students, as the Ontario Government strategy includes a new initiative to develop programming in primary and secondary schools that will encourage and inform students through the transition to post-secondary education.

“Students have always believed that improving access to post-secondary education needs to begin early, and today’s announcement signals that we will begin to directly address these challenges,” said Madden.

“Undergraduate students also have had concerns with the balance between teaching and research in our universities, and welcome the plan’s emphasis on recognizing teaching excellence alongside research excellence.”

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