Ontario universities endeavour to maintain quality for students despite cut to tuition revenue

TORONTO, March 28, 2013 /CNW/ - Ontario universities will endeavour to protect a quality learning experience for students, despite dual fiscal challenges of a reduced tuition cap and cuts to operational budgets.

The Council of Ontario Universities (COU) acknowledges the province's budget deficit and desire to balance affordability for students and their families with revenue needs for universities, and it appreciates that the government listened to all those involved as it took this difficult decision.

"While it won't be easy to absorb this reduction to tuition revenue on top of government funding cuts announced in the last provincial budget, Ontario universities will continue to put the needs of students first," says Alastair Summerlee, COU Chair and President of the University of Guelph. "Maintaining quality of the learning experience will remain our priority."

Ontario has predominantly a four-year undergraduate degree structure, and COU President and CEO Bonnie M. Patterson says the government's decision to provide a four-year tuition framework will allow universities the predictability needed to plan the best possible programs for students.

However, Patterson adds that, Ontario universities already receive the lowest grant funding per student in Canada and, when combined with tuition, university funding per student remains the lowest.

"The reduction of tuition revenue will be an added challenge in the coming year. Ontario universities are already the most efficient and productive in the country, and they will now do everything they can to find more efficiencies while preserving the quality of education our students expect and deserve," Patterson says.

Brad Duguid, Ontario's Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, announced today a four-year tuition framework that will reduce overall tuition increases to reflect inflation plus one per cent, moving from an average of five to three per cent.

Tuition is almost half of all revenue received by Ontario universities. Today's reduction follows a cut in operating grants by the provincial government announced in the provincial budget of $40 million in 2013-14, and nearly $80 million the following year.

The government's exceptional student aid program coupled with more than $700 million in student support offered by universities means average net tuition paid by students in Ontario is approximately half of the tuition fee listed.

Once financial aid is factored in, tuition affordability is not a barrier to accessing a university education in this province.

COU will take time to analyze the full impact of the tuition framework on quality for students.

COU is a membership organization of Ontario's 20 publicly assisted universities and the Royal Military College of Canada. It works closely with the provincial and federal governments to shape public policies that help universities deliver high-quality programs for students, and the research and innovation that improves the social, cultural and economic well-being of Ontarians. Quick Facts:

  • On average, Ontario Student Assistance Plan recipients pay roughly half the "sticker price" of tuition.
  • The Ontario Tuition Grant provides a tuition rebate of $1,680 for students whose families earn less than $160,000 - about 30 per cent of average tuition.
  • Ontario universities provided $779 million in 2011-12 to students for bursaries and scholarships, compared to approximately $278 million in 2000-01.
  • Tuition is a critical source of revenue for universities, representing on average 44 per cent of operating revenue.

Visit the Council of Ontario Universities website at www.cou.on.ca
Follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/CouncilofOntarioUniversities
Follow us on Twitter at @OntUniv

SOURCE: Council of Ontario Universities

For further information:

Wendy McCann
Director, Strategic Communications & Media Relations
T: 416-979-2165 ext. 233
C: 647-271-0825
wmccann@cou.on.ca


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