University of Toronto students applaud new tuition fee policies

Government of Ontario responds to pressure to eliminate flat tuition fee scheme

TORONTO, Dec. 6, 2013 /CNW/ - Students at the University of Toronto applaud the release of new tuition fee policy that limits the use of flat fee tuition schemes that force students to pay for courses they do not take. Students who take three courses will save at least $2300 under the new rules. The policy also eliminates the requirement to pay tuition fees upfront at the beginning of the year, and eliminates "exit" fees charged to students for graduation.

"It's encouraging to know that the government recognizes that the flat fee scheme is unethical," said Melissa Theodore, Vice-President External of the University of Toronto Mississauga Students' Union. "We will continue to work to eliminate flat fees for all students."

It is unclear whether the new flat fees policy will apply to students registered in professional faculties or in graduate studies. At the University of Toronto, fees for professional faculties are typically over $10,000 each year.

"Students should not be denied an education in law or engineering simply because they are not wealthy," said Yolen Bollo-Kamara, Vice-President Equity of the University of Toronto Students' Union. "This is a step in the right direction, and I hope that the government will now focus on the root of the problem: underfunding. Underfunding causes high tuition fees and high student debt that tends to affect marginalized groups most. This trend must end."

While students are encouraged by the financial relief that the new rules will bring, they are concerned that the policy changes do not go far enough to protect students from unfair fee policies. Students who cannot afford the high cost of education will still be subject to interest charges on outstanding balances and mandatory, upfront tuition deposits.

"Part-Time Students will be forced to pay more when they can afford less," said Susan Froom, President of the Association of Part-Time Undergraduate Students. "The new deposit the government is allowing the university to charge is more expensive than most of our tuition fees for an entire year. This is not the change we asked for and it's simply unfair."

Students are also concerned that the government has allowed the University to implement mandatory fees to purchase electronic testing equipment.

"These wireless, multiple-choice remote controls cost $40 or more. They are an inferior evaluation tool and they do nothing to improve the quality or affordability of our education," said Ranziba Nehrin, Vice-President Academics & University Affairs of the Scarborough Campus Students' Union. " We want the government to seriously rethink this provision. We should not be required to purchase devices that do nothing for our education, and that line the pockets of private corporations.

The University of Toronto Students' Union, Association of Part-Time Undergraduate Students, Scarborough Campus Students' Union and University of Toronto Mississauga Students' Union represent over 67,000 undergraduate students at the University of Toronto St. George, Mississauga and Scarborough campuses.

SOURCE University of Toronto Students' Union

For further information:

Yolen Bollo-Kamara, Vice-President External, University of Toronto Students' Union 647-287-4291
Susan Froom, President, Association of Part-Time Undergraduate Students - 416-978-0832
Melissa Theodore, Vice-President External, University of Toronto Mississauga Students' Union, 647-832-3497
Ranziba Nehrin, Vice President Academics & University Affairs, Scarborough Campus Students' Union - 647-209-2578