Ontario has earned an ‘F’ on student life, report reveals

Some findings draw hope that the province can improve its record while others highlight problems that remain Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, has received a failing grade for student life in its university and…

Ontario has earned an 'F' on student life, report reveals

Some findings draw hope that the province can improve its record while others highlight problems that remain

Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, has received a failing grade for student life in its university and college system, despite a year of reforms and promises by its premier, Doug Ford, to stamp out alleged racism and incompetence on university and college campuses.

The report card, based on freedom of information requests, allegations and interviews with community leaders and students, is compiled by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) and the thinktank Education Arise. It gives Ontario an “F” on colleges and an “F” on international students.

One year after Doug Ford took power, Ontario universities feel their gatekeepers have lost grip Read more

Shelley Young, a CUPE official and author of the report, told the Guardian: “Unfortunately, things have gotten worse. International students have now turned into targets of attacks. Postsecondary institutions are acting as an unfettered, unaccountable police force, which doesn’t respect human rights and education as much as they claim to.

“As our report points out, the Ontario Human Rights Commission is required to investigate sexual misconduct and sexual violence on university and college campuses. Yet sexual misconduct and sexual violence continue.”

CUPE has been demanding that Ontario’s Human Rights Commission investigate sexual assault and discrimination on colleges and universities since last year.

The governing Progressive Conservative government has made promises to address complaints of racial discrimination and discrimination by international students. It has promised to change admission practices for international students so they are not in danger of exclusion from places of study. It has also promised to publicly release its definition of “racism”, as part of efforts to “root out racism and negative stereotypes and to create a province that truly reflects all Ontarians”.

Ontario has worked hard to recruit large numbers of international students who bring billions in revenues. The province has been building a massive international student hub in Newmarket, north of Toronto, at the cost of tens of millions of dollars.

The University of Toronto says as much as $13bn in combined revenues could be at risk if international students leave. The province has been urging the federal government to work with it to decrease international student fees, potentially damaging to the schools’ balance sheets.

CUPE said they have made their “lowest grade” given by international students themselves in two years of surveys, and international students have become much more outspoken in their opposition to how the system is being run. They feel it has become less welcoming.

International students speak out on racism and ‘disgusting’ racism in Canada Read more

The last poll – conducted just weeks before Ford came to power – showed that more than one-third of international students in Ontario held negative feelings towards schools, 39% of students complained about their schools’ practices, nearly 40% stated that schools operate unfairly and nearly 33% said that schools were secretive.

Niall Arbutus, a language education professor at Queen’s University, said: “This report is not just about right and wrong. The reality is there is a systematic problem, on top of the racism, that is prompting students to change their views about how universities can run.”

Universities Canada said: “The Ontario Human Rights Commission has no legal authority to investigate the totality of these issues. This issue is a provincial human rights issue, requiring action at the provincial level.”

Leave a Comment