March 2nd, 2023
On Thursday, March 2nd, 2023, the provincial government announced another one-year extension to the tuition freeze for the 2023-24 academic year for Ontario residents, and a 5% cap on tuition increases among certain programs for domestic, out-of-province students. While this is a welcomed announcement, OUSA continues to ask the provincial government to complement the tuition freeze by investing in OSAP funding for students who need it most and increasing operating grants to institutions.
Affordability in higher education goes beyond controlling tuition fees. The 2020 Ontario Undergraduate Student Survey found that 61% of students worry about having enough money to complete their education. The provincial government can improve OSAP to ensure students receive the necessary financial assistance for post-secondary education in Ontario.
“Although we are pleased that domestic tuition will not be increased this coming year, and that considerations are being made toward out-of-province students, we are still concerned that there is simply not enough support for students with financial need,” said Anthony Coulter, Vice President of University Affairs at Trent Durham Student Association at Trent University Durham GTA. “The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the gaps in Ontario’s Tuition Fee Framework. A tuition freeze alone will not reduce affordability concerns; we need more OSAP.”
Ontario’s university students contribute two times more to university operating budgets than the provincial government. The extension of the tuition freeze, which began in 2020-21, has not been supplemented by an increase in operating grants, thereby increasing institutional 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. In 2022-23, the average cost of international tuition has increased to $45,242.
The province’s recent announcement also includes the establishment of a blue-ribbon panel of experts, created to support the quality, accessibility, and sustainability of the sector. OUSA is pleased to see the Government of Ontario taking steps to enhance their consultation efforts with diverse stakeholders across the sector. We look forward to potential opportunities to integrate student perspectives and continue collaboration between students and sector experts.
“Ontario’s post-secondary institutions have become overly reliant on international student tuition to fund their operating budgets. This is not sustainable, as student contributions continue to outpace government contributions.” said Jessica Look, OUSA President and Vice President External Affairs at the University Students’ Council at Western University. “We hope the government’s blue-ribbon panel will prioritize student perspectives in building a more affordable and sustainable post-secondary education system in Ontario.”
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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.
Operations & Communications Coordinator
Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance