Easy access to post-secondary education

On Wednesday, January 26, John Milloy, the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, visited UTM to announce the recent changes that the ministry is making so that post-secondary education is more accessible. Also in attendance for the announcement were Mississauga-Erindale MPP Harinder Takhar and UTM’s principal, Deep Saini.

“Research tells us that seven out of 10 jobs will need a post-secondary education in the future. That’s why it’s so important that we give our college and university students the support they need to pursue their passion and achieve the career of their dreams,” said Milloy. “Our government is committed to making college and university accessible on the basis of ability to learn, not ability to pay.”

The McGuinty government promises to invest $8.1 billion in post-secondary education this school year in order to improve access to university, colleges, and other training programs across Ontario. Compared with 2002, 200,000 more students are attending post-secondary institutions. The easier access to post-secondary education and improvements to the student experience have led to higher graduation rates and quicker employment after graduation.

Among the recent development, Milloy announced, is Ontario’s new transfer-credit system which will be implemented within the next five years. It will reduce the amount of students repetitively completely similar credits at different institutions.

Also, starting this year, OSAP applications will be made available in February instead of May, three months earlier, making Ontario the earliest of any province that offers financial assistance applications.

The government will also allow students to keep more of the money they earn from part-time jobs and have introduced a half-year of interest-free OSAP loan repayments.

The government has also recently launched a new OSAP mobile app that makes it easier for students to check the status of their application and know how much to expect from financial aid and when they can expect it. The app can be accessed at ontario.ca/OSAPmobile. In addition, the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities has a new website at ontario.ca/tcu to help students choose what and where to study.

Milloy talked about the increased support for medical programs. Three new medical education campuses have opened in the past three years. A fourth—UTM’s medical school—is scheduled to open later this year.

More scholarships are on the way, continued Milloy. Starting in the 2011-2012 school year, the government will increase the number of people receiving the Ontario Graduate Scholarship from 2,000 to 3,000.

Part-time students are now able to apply to post-secondary institutions online.

The government is also doing more to help married students. Now, vehicles worth up to $10,000 do not affect the student’s OSAP assessment. Also, the share of income that the students’ spouses are required to contribute to their education has been reduced to 10%.

“I feel like I should be standing on a rooftop and shouting out about these changes,” Milloy declared. “Instead I will just sit here and talk really loudly.”

“We knew we had to make post-secondary education more affordable for students and to make services with no barriers. We want people out in the workforce as soon as possible. We also want to give student associations credit for helping us move forward with this. We’re thinking about students. We’re on the side of students,” concluded Milloy.

Saini agreed with Milloy’s statements. “We want to make sure that all students have the means to get into a post-secondary education and complete their studies,” said Saini. “If you want to compare the tuition fees of U of T with the tuition at Harvard and other Ivy Leagues, you’re paying less for the same stellar education. That’s the magic of U of T.”

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