August 27, 2016

Fairness For Students

 

Join the campaign to Fairness for Students!

Students in Ontario pay the highest tuition fees in the country and students graduate with an average of nearly $30,000 debt in Canada for an undergraduate degree. The Fairness for Students campaign is about increasing access to education. In particular, this campaign calls for:

  1. The reduction and eventual elimination of tuition fees
  2. The elimination of student loans in favour of non-repayable grants
  3. The elimination of interest on student loans and student debt

 


Tuition Fees and Funding background

State of Education in Ontario

Since 2006, the Liberal government has made it increasingly more difficult for students to access an education in Ontario. The government’s decision to increase tuition fees by up to 80 per cent over the past eight years is directly impacting the quality and accessibility of our post-secondary education system. Ontario students pay the highest fees in the country, while sitting in the largest classes and experiencing the worst student-teacher ratios.

By the end of the government’s four-year tuition fee framework, tuition fees will have increased as much as 108 per cent under the Liberal government. High tuition fees have led to record high levels of student debt. On average, a student with public and private debt owes $37,000 after a four-year degree. By allowing tuition fees to increase every year for the next four years, the government has turned its back on Ontario students who are already facing a debt crisis.

Over 70 per cent of new jobs require a college or university education, meaning now, more than ever, affordable education needs to be a government priority.

University of Toronto 

Flat Fees
Here at the University of Toronto, tuition fees continue to increase for domestic and international students. In 2009, the University of Toronto introduced flat fees – or program fees – for students in the Faculty of Arts and Science. Previously, students paid for courses on a per-course basis. If you took three courses, you paid for three courses. As a result of this change, if a student took three courses, they would pay for a full course load of five course. This represented a 66% increase in tuition fees in one year!

In 2013, APUS along with the University of Toronto Students’ Union, and Canadian Federation of Students – Ontario, successfully lobbied the Ontario Government to phase out flat fees in Arts and Science up to a threshold of 4.0 (or 80%) credits, up from 3.0 credits, saving domestic students an estimated $2300 a year, and international students over $11,000 a year. This victory came after four years of campaigning.

Ancillary Fees

In 2012, APUS along with the other central students’ unions at the University, conducted a review of all ancillary fees charged to students. Through this review, we discovered that a number of fees charged to students were illegal. We then called on the University administration to eliminate these fees.

In 2013-2014, we also successfully convinced the University of Toronto to end its relationship with the for-profit corporation, Access Copyright. As demonstrated in the Supreme Court of Canada’s 2011 ruling, we recognized that students and faculty can access copyrighted materials for scholarly purposes and do not need to pay Access Copyright for this. As a result of our lobbying, students saved $27/year through the elimination of this fee.

Recent Victories in Canada

Students in Newfoundland and Labrador have successfully pushed for the elimination of interest on student loans, and most recently the elimination of student loans altogether in their province. They have convinced all major political parties of the importance of investing in education, and having students graduate without exorbitant levels of debt. As a result, the province’s government has begun to eliminate student loans in favour of non-repayable grants.

Moving forward

We are united with other students across the province, calling upon the Ontario government to take immediate action to address the rising cost of post-secondary education by immediately reducing tuition fees by 30 per cent for all students, and instituting a long-term plan to fund post-secondary education.

We want to see the progressive elimination of student loans in favour of grants in the province of Ontario. Education should be a right. If you’re in student loan debt, you may be eligible, for example, check out student loan forgiveness for firefighters.

For more information and to get involved, contact APUS Vice-President External at vpexternal@apus.ca.