By Gagan Batra
“We’re in the same situation here. There were protests on campus taking place last year with regard to the tuition rates and they happen in other places too. I don’t know if that’s why the 30 percent tuition break is now being granted to students, but it would make sense that the government is trying to stop these sorts of demonstrations from taking place.”
Prices for goods are continually fluctuating. As values of certain commodities like oil, diamonds, and gold go up, their prices in the market will increase in response. Certain rates are more volatile than others. Like the gas prices that have been subject to a major hike over these past few years, so have tuition rates of colleges and universities.
Students of postsecondary institutions have much to worry about when financing their education. They have their tuition, rent, food, and textbooks, all of which are not to be considered cheap by any standard. They give tens of thousands of dollars a year to their schools in exchange for their education and credentials. A large chunk of students making these payments do not have any steady income coming their way, either. The government does provide some aid to those who are incapable of supporting themselves through their academic endeavours financially. What will be the result though, when students are unable to respond to the increase in price of their education? Will they risk heavy student loans or working numerous jobs while still in school, or will they reach out to the government to try and prevent the rising costs of tuition?
Just recently the students ofQuebechit the streets and protested over the spring and summer and to their pleasure, the tuition hike was cancelled. While tuition rates anywhere seem high, it is true thatQuebechas some of the lowest tuition rates in all ofCanada, especially when compared withOntario, where the rates are significantly higher. Regardless of the reason for this discrepancy in tuition fees, students ofOntarioand their families are undoubtedly the ones affected by it.
The changing rates inOntariomay not seem too drastic when comparing them over a yearly basis, but overall they are considerably higher than they once were, and arguably will continue to rise.
Students’ opinions about tuition rates seem to vary in some ways. Swapnil Pradhan, third year Management Economics and Finance student at theUniversityofGuelph, believes that tuition rates are unaffordable. “After considering all things, there are initially lots of fees to pay. Residence and off campus living, cell phones, and food are all expenses you have to deal with.” Pradhan believes that funding and grants are all available to students, but overall more effort needs to be put into making tuition affordable to a larger demographic.
Like Pradhan, third year Accounting student from theUniversityofGuelph, Kiran Puri, explained that more can be done to support students who cannot afford post-secondary education. “The 30 percent tuition break was a good first step towards making education more accessible to people, but I think that they can definitely do more.” Puri explains that higher education should be more affordable to a wider demographic since her generation will be the ones entering the workforce in a few years and, “more educated students means that Canada will be in better hands in the future”.
Shwetha Chandrashekhar, fourth year Commerce student at theUniversityofGuelph, shared an interesting point of view about tuition rates differing across provinces. She explained the differences are present because, “Post-secondary education is not standardized so it is not ideal to expect similar tuition rates to that of other universities nationwide.” In this, she explained that the government does not regulate the costs of education on a national scale. In terms of whether or not she thinks that tuition is realistic, Chandrashekhar stated, “Education is becoming a very unaffordable commodity. It will not be feasible for long-term sustainability.” While there are reasons for the cost of education varying acrossCanada, the rates inOntarioare still very high and in some cases unrealistic.
When asked whether or not, in light of the recent protests that had occurred inQuebec, she thinks students inOntariowill resort to similar means, Puri explained that these sorts of things are already happening. “We’re in the same situation here. There were protests on campus taking place last year with regard to the tuition rates and they happen in other places too. I don’t know if that’s why the 30 percent tuition break is now being granted to students, but it would make sense that the government is trying to stop these sorts of demonstrations from taking place.”
Like the university students, Professor Rohatynskyj from the Anthropology department at theUniversityofGuelph, said, “I don’t have very many opinions about them [tuition rates], but I do know that they’re not good.” Although she is employed by the university and not in any way expected to pay fees, Rohatynskyj expressed her displeasure with the rising tuition rates. The reason for this could revolve around the fact that the expenses of attaining an education are rising at such a fast rate that soon a significant portion of the demographic inOntariowill be unable to afford it.
Unlike the alternatives of buying hybrid cars or taking buses to your destination in order to avoid high gas prices, there is no way to avoid paying tuition fees to a school.
The only hopes that students hold on to are receiving scholarships or getting part time jobs to help finance their education. Otherwise, they depend on the government to loan them money which will have interest piled on if it is not paid in the time span given to them after graduation. There is no substitution for education, and for that reason, the cost of it should reflect the capabilities of the larger population, not just one subset.