Republished from Educated Solutions: The Affordability Issue (Issue 8, November 2011)
By David Coletto, Ph.D CEO, Abacus Data Inc.
For the complete results of OUSA’s recent public opinion polling with Abacus Data, click here.
The recent provincial election campaign in Ontario was dominated by debates over taxes, the economy, and who was best to lead Ontario through what appears to be some uncertain economic times. We heard little about some of the other priorities Ontarians care about: health care and education.
In early September, OUSA and the College Student Alliance commissioned Abacus Data to conduct a public opinion survey of Ontarians over the age of 18 to gauge the public’s attitudes towards post-secondary education. An election is a great time to survey the public because it is the one time when it is most engaged and most likely to be thinking about policy issues. With an election underway and school back in session, it was an excellent time to find out where the public is when it comes to post-secondary education.
Here are some of the key findings from the survey.
Most Ontarians believed that post-secondary education was very important to the province’s quality of life and economic prosperity over the next 20 years.
There was little disagreement among the public when it came to higher education’s role in building a better province in the future. Over six in ten respondents (65%) said that post-secondary was very important to the quality of life and economic prosperity of Ontario over the next 20 years while another 26% believed post-secondary was somewhat important to achieving that outcome. This opinion held regardless of one’s gender, age, income, or education. The link between future prosperity and higher education is a consensus opinion.
When asked whether post-secondary education was more important or less important to the province’s future than either hydro rates or health care, only a small minority considered it to be less important. A full two-thirds of Ontarians (67%) believed that post-secondary education was either more important than or just as important as “hydro rates” to the province’s future prosperity while a majority (62%) believed PSE was either more important than or just as important as “the quality of the health care system” to Ontario’s future.