A report on post-secondary school budget cuts commissioned by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union is stirring debate.

Report author Kevin Mackay, a professor at Mohawk College in Hamilton, found that government now covers about half of the operating costs of schools, such as Laurentian and Cambrian, down from three-quarters.

And that has meant cost-cutting, higher tuition, and more part-time instructors he said. For example, Mackay noted there are now three part-time instructors to every full-time instructor in Ontario.

'Your manager could tell you what to teach in your course ..." - Kevin Mackay, a professor at Mohawk College in Hamilton

“A lot of people have no idea it's gotten to that point. So as a student, of course their concern is that you can go through a whole program and most of the professors will be part-time professors.”

Part-time professors lack the time and resources to do their best, he added.

As well, budget-minded managers may, for instance, tell a teacher not to assign essays because it takes too long to mark them.

“Most average Ontarians, I think, have no idea that Ontario college professors actually have no academic freedom protection,” he said.

“So your manager could tell you what to teach in your course, how you're going to teach that, [and] how you are going to evaluate students — even if they have absolutely no experience in your field.”

An Ontario representative with the Canadian Federation of Students said access to quality education must not be lost. Anna Goldfinch said “places like Laurentian and College Boreal are bastions of post-secondary education of high quality, and [it's crucial] that the people who live here can afford to go to the schools that are located here.”

Mackay’s report also highlights other issues include rising tuition, growing class size and more reliance on corporate partnerships.

The Ministry of Training and Colleges declined comment because of the ongoing provincial election campaign.

People in Sudbury talked about the effect of budget cuts on post-secondary education at a town hall Thursday night.