Conference explores Ontario's proposed new undergraduate campuses

February 8, 2012

At a conference Tuesday on the Ontario government's plan to build 3 new undergraduate campuses, Academic Reform co-author Ian Clark argued that undergraduate universities that focus solely on teaching would create cosier classes, reduce salary costs, and boost student satisfaction. Moreover, Clark says professors at these new institutions should be required to teach twice as many courses as usual -- a full 80% of their time with the remainder left for research and administration. Doing so would cut the operating cost of educating a student from $14,300 to $9,800 at a campus of 10,000. Clark noted. Not everyone agrees the province needs any new campus at all. A York University economics professor called it a "major mistake to expand Ontario's university system now...we already have the system we need in place." The professor concludes the province already pays for PSE for over 75% of the population -- beyond even the government's own target of 70%. He suggested Ontario should instead bolster graduate education and research -- the opposite of what the authors of Academic Reform recommend. "We can debate what the new universities might look like, but unless I'm reading different newspapers than everyone else, there's no money to do this or really anything," said Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario president Harvey Weingarten at the conference. Toronto Star