Tuition fees rose for over ninety per cent of college and university students this year, according to a report released by Statistics Canada.
According to the report, tuition fees rose by 3.6% on average to $4,917, the same increase as the previous year. By comparison, inflation declined 0.8% this year, whereas last year it increased by 3.5%. Tuition fees are currently the single largest expense for most college and university students and are increasing more rapidly than any other cost faced by students and far faster than inflation. Tuition fees vary widely from province to province with students in Québec paying just over one third of those in neighbouring Ontario.
“A student’s ability, not their geography should determine whether they go to college or university,” said Giroux-Bougard. “In the absence of a national vision for post-secondary education, the federal government cannot ensure that students across the country have equitable access to higher education.”
The Canadian Federation of Students has been calling for a Post-Secondary Education Act that establishes guidelines for funds transferred to the provinces for post-secondary education. Federal legislation could ensure accountability and create national standards for the quality and accessibility of Canada’s universities and colleges
“Universities and colleges have been underfunded for more than a decade, requiring students to offset costs by paying higher tuition fees,” said Arati Sharma, National Director of the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations. “Further, students and families have fewer resources to pay for a post-secondary education as a result of the recession.”
Federal budget cuts in the early nineties substantially reduced transfers to the provinces for post-secondary education, resulting in a post-secondary education funding gap of nearly $4 billion across Canada. This funding gap has led to increasingly high tuition fees, over the past fifteen years.
The Canadian Alliance of Student Associations, the New Brunswick Student Alliance, the Alliance of Nova Scotia Student Associations, the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance, the College Student Alliance, the Council of Alberta University Students, and the Alberta Student Executive Council, together representing over 600,000 students across the country, are asking the federal government to increase the federal funding for post-secondary education to $4 billion per year.
To ensure the effectiveness of this transfer, the federal government must work with the provinces in order to maintain their own post-secondary education spending upon receipt of this additional federal funding.
Ontario university tuition is now the highest in Canada averaging $5,951 per student according to Statistics Canada’s university tuition study released this morning. Universities in Ontario saw the largest increase in tuition in Canada, forcing more students to take on significant debt just to stay in school.
“Being number one in the country is nothing to be proud of when it’s for the cost of an education. This is a wake-up call for the provincial government,” said Dan Moulton, President of the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA). “We should be number one in quality, accessibility, and affordability, not setting new records for highest tuition.”
Ontario universities are in need of significant financial support, but Ontario students already pay a greater percentage of the cost of their education than their counterparts elsewhere in Canada. OUSA is calling on the provincial government to bring per-student funding up to the national average and for the federal government to take leadership on a nation-wide problem that is seeing tuition rise across the country.
“Given the current economic climate, it’s unreasonable to charge more tuition to students who already can’t afford it,” said Moulton. “It’s crucial that the Ontario and Canadian governments show leadership on this issue through serious new investments in higher education.”
With Files from CNW