It’s time to explore the possibilities of funding students who seek to upskill, develop professionally, and pursue higher education. The reasons for taking on school or training in a part-time basis are numerous and reasonable:
- Working while pursuing further studies can have a reciprocally powerful effect; one stays current in the research thereby becoming more effective in their work, and builds a critical lens for the work they are engaged with (potentially leading to innovative approaches)
- For those with young families, it may not be possible to simply press pause on work to pursue a masters degree or special skills certification. Part time studies allow a person to continue in their chosen careers while meeting commitments to their loved ones.
- Students leaving post-secondary programmes have unprecedented levels of debt. In order to continue to make payments with private lenders, constantly negotiate with the National Student Loan Service Centre, and find a way to pay for additional courses creates an incredible mental strain and undue stress. We want to encourage life-long learners to keep Ontario’s economy strong, but we do not want to create or contribute to a culture of burnout.
Ontario should commit to work for part-time students in the following ways:
- Grants and bursaries. Any little bit could help, and we should encourage folks to continue to upskill and be current with the research in their field
- Require no payments on any outstanding public student debt (I.e. OSAP or other publicly funded financial aid)
- Make it clear to private lenders that their profits will not be built on the backs of students. Launch a review of all policy around financial institutions and student loans/lines of credit.
- Make a commitment to a full policy review of options for students who successfully find work in fields related to their education, looking at international jurisdictions such as Australia, Germany, and Finland