McGuinty’s Vision for Postsecondary Education in Ontario

I’ll excerpt from the Globe and the Star here, and follow up with some personal opinions over the next couple of days.

In short, though, it seems that McGuinty has decided that the future of Ontario postsecondary education involves soliciting up to 19,000 more international students, so as to rely on their added fees to offset the costs for Ontarian students.  I suppose if we can outsource our manufacturing jobs, then oursourcing our educational funding makes sense.

Think of it as edu-tourism, with all the secondary benefits.

Here’s excerpts of Robert Benzie’s article at The Toronto Star:

Premier Dalton McGuinty wants to transform Ontario into a beacon for foreign students, allow Crown corporations to compete globally, and sell clean-water expertise to a thirsty world.

In a Speech from the Throne on Monday that McGuinty hopes can propel his Liberals to victory in the October 2011 election, the premier will unveil an ambitious agenda for governing – despite a record $24.7 billion budget deficit.

“Open Ontario,” detailed in the speech to be read by Lieutenant-Governor David Onley in the Legislature, is a five-year plan that promises to improve access to colleges and universities for Ontarians by subsidizing them with fees from international students.

“There will be more opportunities to help Ontarians get post-secondary education and also an expanded interest in bringing more foreign students here,” a senior government official said Sunday. [. . . ]

The premier insists he’s serious about changes to education.

“Australia’s third-largest industry is international education – it creates jobs, so why don’t we get serious about competing for international students,” McGuinty said recently.

“We could use the funds this generates to help expand our schools for our kids and create jobs,” McGuinty said. Another Liberal insider said McGuinty hopes “to make Ontario more like Massachusetts and less like Arkansas.” [. . . ]

“We are calling our plan Open Ontario because we understand growing our economy, growing stronger, requires that Ontario be open to change, open to opportunities, open to our new world,” the premier said recently.

And Karen Howlett’s article at the Globe:

Ontario’s road to economic recovery leads through the classroom, with a new strategy to turn education into an export industry.

The province plans to create another 20,000 spaces this year in its universities and colleges – and hopes to fill many of them by boosting enrolment of international students by 50 per cent over five years.

The classroom is the centrepiece of Premier Dalton McGuinty’s five-year plan to return Canada’s one-time economic engine to prosperity, unveiled in Monday’s Speech from the Throne. [. . .]

He said he sees a successful future, one that will be built on the backs of a new generation trained for the highly skilled jobs that will supplant those on assembly lines. “We will, in our turn, do whatever it takes to secure a bright future for our children,” he told reporters.

The five-year plan called Open Ontario begins with providing funding in the budget for the 20,000 new postsecondary spaces this year. Ontario hopes to emulate Australia, where international education ranks as the third-largest industry, Mr. McGuinty said.

At the same time, the province is launching a new Ontario Online Institute, which will allow students to take courses from a number of the province’s colleges and universities without leaving home. It will be the first institution in Ontario that offers province-wide diplomas or degrees over the Internet.

Not only do the nearly 38,000 international postsecondary students already in Ontario help the economy – they spend $1-billion a year on such things as rent, groceries and clothing – they also give Ontarians an opportunity to better understand different cultures and the global economy, Mr. McGuinty said.

“Those international students who graduate can stay here and help us grow our economy, or go back [home] and work as a partner with us in the global economy,” he said.

“Where others see a world that threatens,” said the Throne Speech read by Lieutenant-Governor David Onley, “Ontarians see opportunity that beckons.” [ . . . .]

Okay, so the government wants Ontario’s education system to better resemble that of (alternately) Massachusetts, Australia, and, um, Virtual Kamloops?

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