OUSA releases policy paper "Tuition”

November 19, 2018

TORONTO, ON - A policy paper released by the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) this morning, focuses on the cost and affordability of post-secondary education in Ontario. The paper was written, approved, and published by students with the purpose of providing recommendations for renewing Ontario’s tuition framework, reducing tuition costs, and restoring public funding to Ontario’s universities.

“Increasing tuition costs are a barrier for students to access post-secondary education in Ontario, particularly for first-generation, lower-income students, LGBTQ2+ students, Indigenous students and students with disabilities,” said Cat Dunne, student at Western University, co-author of the Tuition paper and former OUSA intern. “In order for students to thrive throughout and after their university studies, financial security is essential. I am optimistic these recommendations will be adopted by the provincial government in the renewal of the tuition framework.”

Concerns presented in the paper include the high cost of post-secondary education, the increasing reliance of student contributions to Ontario universities’ operating budgets, and stalled government funding. Students are also concerned about the exceptionally high costs of professional programs and international tuition fees, and worry about the impact of stranded and differentiated tuition on educational quality, and how the current tuition framework exacerbates these issues. In addition to this, students also worry about transparency and accountability, including the need for accessible and easily understandable information on program costs and university budgets. Ontario’s university students also want to address issues like regressive payment policies such as flat fee tuition models, late fees, and worry about the potential reintroduction of deferral fees if this policy is not protected in the renewal of the tuition framework.

“This paper lays out a roadmap,” said Matthew Gerrits, Steering Committee Member at OUSA and student at the University of Waterloo. “This roadmap to a more affordable and accessible environment for undergraduate students.”

Overarching recommendations in the paper include: restoring a fairer cost-sharing model, improving accountability through regulation and best practices, as well as addressing funding gaps, to help tackle concerns over affordability and quality. More specifically, OUSA advocates for a tuition freeze across all programs at all Ontario universities combined with an increase in government contributions to university operating budgets. After a fairer cost sharing model is restored, tuition should be capped at Consumer Price Index while maintaining public funding. Additionally, OUSA advocates for targeted funding to help universities with programs that have been impacted by stranded and differentiated tuition costs, improving information about the cost of education, increasing student oversight on budgetary procedures, and removing financial penalizations such as late fees, while developing other measures and helping students who are struggling financially.

This paper was written by students from OUSA member associations and presented to the OUSA Fall General Assembly on November 4th for approval. To read the paper, please click here.

- 30 -

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]