March 23, 2022
OUSA responds to the 2022-23 Tuition Freeze
TORONTO - On Wednesday, March 23rd, the Ontario government announced another one-year extension to the tuition freeze covering 2022-23 for Ontario residents only. OUSA continues to ask the provincial government to complement the freeze by investing in increased operating grants to institutions and OSAP funding for students who need it most.
“Although we are pleased that domestic tuition will not be increased this coming year, we are worried there is still not enough support for students that demonstrate financial need,” said Eunice Oladejo, OUSA President and VP External Affairs for the University Student Council at Western. “The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted key gaps within student financial aid and, unfortunately, this tuition framework fails to address some of these gaps.”
According to our 2020 survey, 61% of students were concerned about having enough money to complete their education. While controlling for high costs of tuition is one way to consider affordability, another important aspect is student financial aid for students who need it most. The provincial government has an opportunity to improve OSAP and ensure that students are receiving the financial assistance they need to afford post-secondary education in Ontario.
The tuition freeze does not apply to out-of-province or international students, neither of whom are eligible for OSAP. The former may experience increased fees as a result, though this risk is heightened for international students, who pay significantly higher tuition compared to their domestic counterparts. The 2019-20 tuition reduction as well as the 2020-21 and 2021-22 tuition freezes, which were not supplemented by an increase in operating grants, placed increased reliance on raising international student fees and recruiting more international students. In 2021-22, the average cost of tuition per year in Ontario for international students was $42,185, while the cost for domestic students remained $7,938.
“Post-secondary institutions rely on student tuition, particularly international tuition, to fund their operating budgets as student contributions continue to outpace government contributions,” said Nathan R. G. Barnett, OUSA Steering Committee Member and Vice President of University Affairs at Trent Durham Student Association. “It’s clear that Ontario post-secondary generally needs higher investments from the province to not only better support student affordability, but also strengthen operating grants to institutions so they can continue to provide high-quality education.”
Affordability persists as a significant barrier to high-quality post-secondary education in Ontario, whether a student is domestic, out-of-province, or international. While well-intended, a domestic tuition freeze does not actively address the serious issue of student affordability in the province related to OSAP funding and unregulated international tuition. We urge the provincial government to increase investments into post-secondary education that would expand OSAP for students who need it most, provide higher operating grants to institutions, and regulate international tuition.
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.