‘Our kids first’: Doug Ford wants only Ontario students at universities, colleges

Premier Doug Ford said Wednesday he’d like to see Ontario post-secondary institutions attended only by students from Ontario.

Ford said about 18 per cent of students in the province’s colleges and universities are from foreign countries.

“In my opinion, and we will continue working with the ministry, get rid of the 18 per cent,” he said at an announcement for a new medical school at York University.

“I’m not being mean, but I’m taking care of our students, our kids first.”

Ford then lamented the fact that some kids and parents have said some Ontario students study abroad and then do not return home after they meet someone.

“I want 100 per cent of Ontario students going to these universities,” he said.

Post-secondary institutions, especially colleges, in the province turned increasingly to international students after Ford’s government cut tuition by 10 per cent in 2019 and froze it there.

A government-commissioned panel recommended last fall that the province unfreeze tuition, fund post-secondary institutions at an appropriate level and increase supports for students in need.

The federal government announced earlier this year it would slash the number of international student permits it would hand out, with Ontario seeing its allotment cut in half.

Many Ontario colleges and universities are now running deficits and a recent $1.3-billion top-up to those schools is about half of what they say they need to become healthy, viable institutions. The province recently said it would keep tuition rates frozen.

Last week, the province said it would prioritize its newly reduced number of international undergraduate study permits to post-secondary institutions that offer in-demand programs, such as in the skilled trades

Nearly all of the permits will go to publicly assisted colleges and universities, with private career colleges receiving none.

Ontario’s budget last week indicated that the lost international student revenue in the college sector, whose finances show up on the province’s books, will total about $3 billion over two years.

Source: The Canadian Press

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