Tuition fee policy changes a step forward, still more to be done

TORONTO, Dec. 5, 2013 /CNW/ - Policy changes announced today by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities will provide some clarity and relief for students, but do not go far enough to protect students from unfair fee policies.

"The government has taken some small steps on issues students have been sounding the alarm on, such as flat fees, per-term tuition fee billing and graduation fees," said Alastair Woods, Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario. "Although students want to see an end to flat fees, we welcome these changes that will save students money."

The policy changes announced today include increasing the threshold for flat fees at universities from 60 per cent to 80 per cent over the next three years, ensuring that all students can pay tuition fees per term without any penalty, and eliminating fees charged to students for graduation.

The government will also now permit institutions to charge a deposit of $500 or 10 per cent of tuition fees and have opened additional avenues to allow ancillary fees for digital learning tools. The new policies will also do nothing to address flat fees at Ontario colleges or improve enforcement of the province's ancillary fee protocol.

"Unfortunately, some of the proposals provide new opportunities for institutions to burden students with additional costs," said Woods. "Students will continue to advocate at the institutional and provincial levels to end these and other unfair fee practices."

The Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario has long advocated for per-term billing and an end to flat fee policies that force students to pay the cost of a full course load regardless of the number of courses they are actually enrolled in. Earlier this fall, it was discovered that the University of Toronto made more than $1.7 million in interest by forcing students to pay the full cost of tuition fees in advance of the start of the academic year.

The recommendations students made to the Working Group on Tuition Billing and Associated Fees can be found here.

The Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario is the province's largest student organization, representing more than 300,000 college and university students at 38 students' unions in all regions of the province.

SOURCE Canadian Federation of Students - Ontario

For further information:

Alastair Woods, Chairperson: (647) 378-8942 (cell) or chairperson@cfsontario.ca

Kaley Kennedy, Communications Coordinator: (647) 302-3891 (cell) or communications@cfsontario.ca