Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance responds to the new tuition framework and changes to OSAP

January 17, 2019

TORONTO, ON - Today, the provincial government announced changes to Ontario’s tuition framework for universities, including a 10% decrease in domestic undergraduate and professional tuition across all programs. Post-secondary students in Ontario have faced the highest tuition fees nationwide and affordability remains a high priority for Ontario students and their families. Students are pleased to see the provincial government's initiative to address high educational costs by reducing tuition fees, as well as a freeze on tuition in the following years.

However, students are concerned about the changes to the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP), particularly the reduction of needs-based grants and shift from a predominantly grants-based system to a predominantly loans-based one. Students are also concerned about the impact the reduction of tuition, without restored public funding, will have on the quality of education. We are disappointed as this shift will put more of a burden on students and families when it comes to debt repayments and upfront access, but we are optimistic that the government is still putting a priority on supporting those who need help the most.

“A decrease in tuition benefits all students,” said OUSA President, Danny Chang, and student at Western University. “However, we are concerned about the negative impacts that the announced changes to OSAP will have for students and families, particularly around debt. We look forward to sitting down with the government to discuss student concerns over what this means for the quality and affordability of our education.”

OUSA has long advocated for restored public funding and a fairer cost-sharing model in Ontario, believing that all willing and qualified students should be able to access and excel within Ontario’s post-secondary system. To ensure equitable access to post-secondary education, sufficient financial aid must be available to those who need it. Over 240,000 students benefited from OSAP in the 2017-2018 year. Students understand that Universities also face significant challenges as provincial transfers to operating budgets have stalled over the years, and institutions have become increasingly reliant on student fees as a source of operating revenue-- including international tuition. This is not a sustainable model and students are concerned about the impact that underfunding Universities will have on their quality of education.

“With the decrease in domestic tuition, students are concerned that international students will continue to bear these costs,” said OUSA Vice President Finance, Shannon Kelly, and student at Wilfrid Laurier University. “International students bring a diversity of perspectives and enhance the university experience for all students. OUSA recommends that the government should regulate international student tuition.”

OUSA’s policies are created, revised, and passed by our student membership. Find our 2018 policy on Tuition here and our 2015 Student Financial Assistance policy here. Key recommendations include:

  • Freezing tuition while increasing operating grants to restore sufficient public funding;
  • After restoring a fairer cost-sharing model, tuition increases for all programs should be capped at Consumer Price Index for Ontario, maintaining the same fair-cost sharing ratio;
  • Regulating international tuition rates and increases at the same percentage as domestic tuition;
  • The repayment of student loans should not begin until six months after ceasing studies and only if the individual has the economic means to do so;
  • The provincial government should increase the amount of non-repayable financial aid available to students.

Our Student Financial Assistance policy paper is currently under review and set to be updated at our next General Assembly meeting from March 1 - 3, 2019.

Today's announcement also introduced a stipulation that allows students to opt-out of non-tuition fees including fees that are non-essential. The government deems essential services as walksafe programs, health and counselling, athletics, and recreation and academic support. To read our press release, visit here.

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OUSA represents the interests of 150,000 professional and undergraduate, full-time and part-time university students at eight student associations across Ontario. Our vision is for an accessible, affordable, accountable, and high quality post-secondary education in Ontario.

Deborah Lam
Operations & Communications Director
Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance
[email protected]