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Fleming College, Trent University ‘encouraged’ by $1B for Ontario post-secondary institutions

Click to play video: 'Trent University, Fleming College in Peterborough react to Ontario post-secondary funding boost'
Trent University, Fleming College in Peterborough react to Ontario post-secondary funding boost
Officials with Fleming College and Trent University are welcoming a $1.3 billion funding boost for post-secondary institutions by the provincial government. As Germain Ma reports, the student community has been feeling the impact of underfunding. – Feb 26, 2024

Officials with Fleming College and Trent University in Peterborough, Ont., say more than a billion dollars in funding for Ontario’s post-secondary institutions is a welcomed first step but believe more still needs to be done.

On Monday, Minister of Colleges and Universities Jill Dunlop announced $1.3 billion in new funding for post-secondary institutions that may be impacted by the federal government’s cap on international students introduced in January.

At Fleming College, president Maureen Adamson thanked the Ontario government, stating the $1.3-billion commitment for in higher education is a “welcomed first step.”

“We look forward to more details regarding specific allocations,” Adamson stated. “These funds are essential to help to address Fleming’s financial challenges resulting from the federal government’s recent decision to cap international students and eliminate public private partnerships.”

Click to play video: 'Ontario announces $1.3B funding for post-secondary institutions, maintains tuition freeze'
Ontario announces $1.3B funding for post-secondary institutions, maintains tuition freeze

Trent University also stated it is “encouraged by preliminary reports of potential investments for Ontario’s universities and colleges.”

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“The University is eager to learn more from today’s announcement from Minister Jill Dunlop and review the details as they relate to Trent,” the university stated in an email to Global News. “We look forward to sharing further comment once a full analysis has been completed.”

 

On Tuesday afternoon, Trent issued an updated statement, welcoming the $903 million Sustainability Fund to provide “much-needed financial support” for Trent and other universities and the $100 million to support currently unfunded STEM students.

“(It) will help Trent students in many programs, including software engineering, computer science, the environmental sciences and our leading math and science programs,” Trent stated.

“As an institution that has advocated for wrap-around supports for our students, Trent is pleased by the news of investments in enhanced mental health supports for students. Renewed support for capital repairs and equipment will help Trent maintain its world-class facilities for teaching and research.

“The new funding will allow Trent to continue our role as a key contributor to the well-being of our communities, driving regional innovation and economic growth, and providing our graduates with the skills and abilities to support the complex workforce needs locally, nationally, and internationally.”

But Trent students are remaining cautiously optimistic about the announcement, says Aimee Anctil, the president of the Trent Central Student Association.

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“I’m cautiously optimistic. To be honest, I’m quite a bit worried because it seems as though it’s something that’s going to be supplementing the issues that are going to be caused by the international student cap,” Anctil said. “So, once that funding’s brought in, it’s only going to be acting as a buffer.”

The TCSA reports the number of people accessing the campus food pantry is on the rise. Anctil said students have been picking up the burden of underfunding at post-secondary institutions.

“The food insecurity problem is probably the biggest one that we’re seeing for students and housing more generally speaking in Peterborough because it not only has to do with student houselessness but houselessness more broadly in Peterborough,” Anctil said. “I’d say that any aspect that the university contributes to bringing in more students to the university, there’s that ripple effect.”

Anctil is worried the university has been forced to “over enroll” to make up for lacking provincial funds — especially through international student tuitions.

“I would say more than two-thirds of students who are accessing our food pantry are international students,” she said.

On Monday, Peterborough Mayor Jeff Leal said the provincial funding for post-secondary schools could add stability.

“There’s no question that when you are both a college and university town — that Peterborough is — that does place some pressures, particularly on rental accommodation.”

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Earlier this month, city council approved a motion urging the federal government to rethink its cap on international student admissions.

“Both Trent University and Fleming College are operating from a very sound financial position because they’re great contributors,” Leal said. “Not only by their students creating diversity in the city and County of Peterborough, but certainly their economic impact.”

— with files from Germain Ma/Global News Peterborough

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