Tuition soars nationally
At an average of $5,951 Ontario students pay the highest for a post-secondary education, compared to any of their Canadian peers.
In 2009-10, annual tuition fees have increased 3.6 per cent nationally. According to Statistics Canada’s study released yesterday, Ontario surpassed Nova Scotia, who previously had the top rank.
Alexi White, executive director for the Ontario University Student Association (OUSA), explained that tuition is increasing because of a provincial policy that was implemented three years ago.
Average tuition per Ontario student
“The framework said that tuition could go up by a maximum of five per cent across each [post-secondary] institution, and it’s gone up five per cent overall because no institution has chosen not to increase by the maximum,” said White.
However, the core of the issue extends nationally to the overall funding system for post-secondary education.
“There’s basically a $4 billion gap in the post-secondary education system,” said Arati Sharma, president of the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA).
“From the federal perspective, the issue is that the post-secondary education system has been underfunded for about a decade.”
CASA, teamed with OUSA, the College Student Alliance (CSA), the New Brunswick Student Alliance (NBSA), the Alliance of Nova Scotia Student Associations (ANSSA), the Council of Alberta University Students (CAUS), and the Alberta Student Executive Council (ASEC), are asking the federal government to re-evaluate and provide these institutions with $4 billion per year to support the 600,000 students which they are responsible for.
“We have this funding envelope that’s going towards post-secondary education, but we need to make sure it’s an accountable transfer and that it’s funded up to the level at least where it was in the early 90s,” said Sharma.
Average tuition per Canadian student
Kory Preston, vice-president of university affairs for the Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union echoes CASA’s stance on advocating the government for tuition funding.
“There’s no indication that [the government] is interested in [negotiating] from what I’ve seen,” said Preston.
OUSA is also seeking the government’s assistance to bring per-student funding up to the national average. The government is being asked to take leadership on a nation-wide issue in which they are aware of.
“Were not looking for free tuition; and that’s the important piece of this,” said Preston.
National post-secondary funding gap
“We believe that students do have some responsibility when it comes to financing university, we just think the amount of responsibility that students have should be much less than what were paying now,“ he added.
The degree to which students are baring the burden of the costs of post-secondary education is one of the main concerns in Ontario.
“From OUSA’s perspective the contribution model is seriously flawed right now,” said White.
“Students are paying about 45 per cent of the operating cost of their universities on average and that’s much higher than the average in other provinces.”
An increase in government funding appears to be the clear solution in relieving the costs of education for students while still maintaining quality.
“We need to ensure that we’re really looking at the system holistically and we’re funding the entire system so that it’s not in a deficit,” said Sharma.