The Ontario government recently announced plans to build up to three new post-secondary education sites, but is focusing its efforts on university students.
The plan known as the Major Capital Expansion Policy Framework, will call for capital projects that will immediately provide educational facilities for 1,000 new students, and up to 10,000 spaces in the future.
The focus is on undergraduate degree-granting institutions. Emily Hedges, senior advisor for communications with the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, points out that the government foresees strong long-term demand growth for degree-level programs.
Hedges said future development might include college level institutions
“Although the upcoming call for proposals will focus on expanding undergraduate spaces, future calls for proposal may focus on other areas, including capacity growth at the college level,” she said.
Ruth McKay, director of planning and government relations at Humber College, said she’s pleased the government has indicated future large-scale construction projects in the postsecondary education sector to support the government’s long-term priorities.
Tyler Epp, director of advocacy with the College Students Alliance (CSA), said that the government’s focus should be maintenance projects rather than building new sites. Many of these projects have been deferred due to budgetary constraints, he said.
Timothy Brilhante, president of the Humber Students’ Federation, has noted that Humber has benefitted a great deal from capital investment by the government, noting projects such as the new Learning Resource Commons building and plans to expand the Lakeshore Campus in the near future.
“I believe Ontario is recognizing the growing value that colleges and college students contribute to our country and economy,” said Brilhante. “It will be great to see more investments made to the development of our institutions in the future.”
Epp does not agree that college students are being short-changed with regard to capital expansion.
“Though there is currently a focus on undergraduate providers, hundreds of millions of dollars in already dedicated funding for capital expansion is forthcoming for colleges,” he said.
Brilhante agrees with this assessment.
“I personally don’t feel shortchanged as I speak to my experience at Humber,” he said. “I suppose it’s just the time it takes to build new infrastructure and maintain existing spaces that can be time consuming for students, which can be attributed to high demand and low supply of space.”