New college funding impact unclear for Lambton

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Lambton College President Rob Kardas isn’t sure a new $1.3 billion funding package for post-secondary education will help here.

Community colleges and universities have been concerned about provincial funding since the Conservative government rolled back and then froze tuition rates, which reduced funding to post secondary institutions in 2019. A recent panel asked the province to raise tuition by five per cent in the next school year and allow two per cent increases after that. In all, the panel called for a $2.5 billion cash infusion into the system.

Instead, the province is holding the line on tuition again for three years, although it will allow institutions to raise tuition rates for out-of-province students by five per cent. The province said it is trying to keep tuition affordable.

The province has set aside money for mental health, small and northern universities and colleges, research, and to create more spots for students in science, technology, engineering and math. There is also more cash for institutions which are in difficult financial straights.

Lambton’s president is “optimistic that it’s a start for us.” But Rob Kardas says Lambton is in a stronger financial position than most colleges, posting surpluses for 22 years straight and using them to improve the college campus.

There is concern. Lambton College and its affiliated colleges in Ottawa and the GTA, attract a large number of international students generating millions in revenue which fuel those surpluses. Now, the federal government is cutting back the number of students entering the country.

“I think the funding today is one piece of the puzzle that helps us with this recent international announcement which, as I said to you previously, is definitely going to going to impact the bottom line and both in 2425 and to a greater extent and 25 and 26,” he says.

Kardas adds the ability to increase out-of-province tuition will provide some new revenue but “not enough to make it significant.”

And he hopes the province will reconsider the tuition freeze. “There’s really no other sector in this inflationary environment that we, we live in where, where that’s obviously the case…We want to keep education affordable for students and we thought we could do both things by just allowing for a modest tuition increase. But they said no for now, so we’ll have to we’ll have to look at that and look at what they’re proposing here.”