Post Secondary Education
Public colleges are privatizing everything from food services to curriculum – and teachers and students say they’re witnessing the foundations of public education erode with each poor management decision. From problematic partnerships with McDonalds to deals with countries with a history of horrific human rights abuses, college administrators are using their limited funds to benefit themselves rather than improve education and services for Ontario students.
Outsourcing the curriculum
Public colleges and universities receive most of their funding from two sources: student tuition and the government. But Ontario provides the lowest per student funding of any province in Canada. This funding shortfall is pushing colleges in the province into questionable ventures with private colleges and corporations. Ontario is now seeing a creeping trend toward privatization that’s not only undermining the quality, but abandoning the very purpose, of publicly funded colleges and universities.
Privatizing services takes a toll on campus community
Privatization is also a concern outside of the classroom. Good food, professional security, and safe, clean facilities are vital to a good education. Over the years, however, these important support services have been contracted out to private companies that are more concerned with turning profits than providing services. The risks to students, staff and the wider community are real. Recent disease outbreaks, such as the hundreds of students sickened from norovirus at Ontario colleges, show clearly just how important quality services are. When quality suffers, so does the college community.
What privatization means to our colleges
The immediate effects of handing over higher education to corporate owners include:
- cuts to classroom hours for students and more self-directed learning with no professor available to help;
- hiring policies that favour exploited contract instructors over dedicated full-time professors;
- publisher-run courses, where textbook publishers, not professors, deliver lessons and evaluate performance;
- partnerships with private colleges that allow a private college to teach public college courses and grant public college diplomas without providing the same student services and quality of education;
- private food services and retail stores that set their own prices and student hiring policies; and
- outsourcing student counselling to private corporations and call centres.
Privatized education “worthless”
Together, these reflect an experience for students that’s influenced more and more by profit than purpose. Students who attend Ontario’s privately run colleges sometimes find this out the hard way: Graduates of Everest College, a private college run by a U.S.-based company, were so disappointed in their educational experience they called for the school to be shut down in 2015. Many were left with thousands of dollars of debt and said their diplomas were “worthless,” describing Everest as a “scam.”
High-quality public education matters – not only to the students who pay for it, but to all Ontarians who care about building a productive economy driven by skilled and innovative workers in the future. The mission of the College system is to provide education and training to all sectors of Ontario’s population. Protecting higher education from corporate interests helps ensure our institutions continue to provide this quality education to all our students, to engage in research, training and innovation that sustains our economy, and to freely share knowledge that enriches all of our lives.