Students Supportive of Progress on Eliminating Unfair Testing Fees & Deferral Fees, Concerned with Flat-Fee Tuition Structures
TORONTO, Oct. 8, 2013 /CNW/ - The Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance is pleased to release its response to the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities' reportback from roundtables on technical tuition related fees. Students recognize that the Province's charted policy direction on these issues reflects many of students' concerns on ancillary fees, testing fees, tuition payment deadlines and deferral fees, but believe more should be done to address unfair flat-fee tuition billing structures in Ontario.
"OUSA supports the Province's proposed direction to address unfair testing fees," said Amir Eftekarpour, President of the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance and Vice-President External of the University Students' Council of Western University. "The Ministry has recognized that it is unfair for students to pay a second time to access online evaluation materials, or textbooks with bundled evaluation materials, when they have already paid tuition."
Students support the Ministry's specific proposals to require institutions to pay for standalone online evaluation materials through operating funds and in cases where evaluation is bundled with other materials, be required to provide students with a partial refund or upfront discount equivalent to the cost of bundled evaluation materials. If a university is unable to provide such refunds or discounts, students agree with the Ministry's proposal that institutions provide students with a no-cost alternative means of assessment equivalent to the online materials.
Students also commend the Province for recognizing that tuition deferral fees must be regulated to ensure that students unable to meet tuition costs by payment deadlines do not pay additional fees. Previously, students relying on financial assistance or summer earnings could be required to pay deferral or late fees due to deadlines set long before they received their OSAP entitlements or final summer earnings. The Province's proposed changes to tuition payment deadlines and deferral fees recognizes that this is an unfair practice.
Although students are largely supportive of much of the Ministry's new direction regarding tuition payment deadlines, deferral fees and ancillary fees, concerns remain regarding flat-fee tuition billing structures.
"Flat-fee tuition is inherently unfair to students," said Adam Garcia, Vice-President Administration of OUSA and Vice-President Education of the University of Waterloo's Federation of Students. "Flat-fees charge students for education they aren't receiving and disproportionately affect high-need students, who for a variety of reasons may be unable to take a full course load."
Although students recognize that the government's proposal to implement a strict billing threshold of 80% of a full course load will benefit students at universities with flat-fee thresholds below 80%, students remain concerned that the lifting of the existing flat-fee moratorium could see more institutions move to flat-fee billing models.
Instead, OUSA recommends the Province extend the existing moratorium on flat-fees while simultaneously raising the threshold to 80% for institutions with this billing practice. Additionally, OUSA urges the Province to require universities that charge flat-fees to provide accommodations for students from high need backgrounds, including Aboriginal students, students with dependents and students with disabilities, to allow them to pay on a per-credit basis.
To read OUSA's response to "Moving Forward on Technical Tuition Related Issues," click here.
About the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA)
OUSA represents the interests of over 140,000 professional and undergraduate, full- and part-time university students at eight member associations across Ontario.
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