Demand for Ontario’s universities up as postsecondary education recognized as key to brighter future

Ontario’s universities look forward to investments to support growth and quality

The number of high school students applying to Ontario’s universities is up 1.8 per cent over last year in spite of an overall decline in secondary school graduates, which demonstrates that postsecondary education is recognized as key to a brighter economic future for graduates, and for the province.

“Ontario’s universities are seeing the positive impact on accessibility and enrolment of the government’s OSAP reforms,” David Lindsay, President and CEO of the Council of Ontario Universities, said Thursday in response to Ontario’s 2017 provincial budget.

“We will now work with government to find ways to support the growth universities have absorbed over the years, and to invest in a quality university system we know plays a role in a strong future for Ontario.”

Enrolment at Ontario’s universities has grown by 65 per cent since 2000. About 290,000 students were enrolled in an Ontario university in 2000, compared to about 480,000 in 2015, the last year figures are available. But operating grants from the provincial government have not kept pace.

Universities appreciate new investments by the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development through the $190-million Career Kick-Start Program, which will increase partnerships with industry to boost work-related learning opportunities that will help students apply their skills.

Internships provided to students through the Mitacs Accelerate and TalentEdge programs will also benefit Ontario through meaningful industry-led research partnerships.

New financial aid measures announced in last year’s provincial budget will mean average tuition is free for 210,000 students from low-income families, and universities are preparing to implement these welcome reforms to the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP).

Ontario’s universities want to be good partners in building a brighter future to help graduates and the province thrive in a rapidly changing economy.

Universities are engaged in a conversation with the public about how to work together to unlock the full potential of the province’s future as part of the #futuring campaign. Join the conversation and share your thoughts on the future by visiting and taking our survey.


COU is the voice of Ontario’s universities, promoting the value of education, research and innovation that leads to social, cultural and economic success.

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For further information, please contact:

Wendy McCann
Senior Director, Communications
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416-473-4829 (cell)
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