Decade-long rank as most expensive province for higher education undermines Ontario's promising changes to financial assistance

TORONTO, Sept. 8, 2016 /CNW/ - Data released today by Statistics Canada today confirms that for the ninth consecutive year, Ontario students are paying the highest tuition fees in Canada. Average tuition fees in the province for 2016-17 will be $8,114 for domestic undergraduate students, up from $7,868 in 2015-16. For domestic graduate students, fees increased to $9,416, up from $9,175 last year. The data also shows that Ontario international student tuition fees increased more than any other province, jumping from $27,627 in 2015-16 to $29,761 this year.

"While these statistics are hardly surprising, they are more worrisome given the recent promising changes to student financial assistance in the province" said Rajean Hoilett, Chairperson for the Canadian Federation Students-Ontario. "Allowing further tuition fee increases, particularly without additional public funding, would erode the quality and accessibility of Ontario's colleges and universities."

The tuition fee data released by Statistics Canada today shows that undergraduate tuition fees have increased by 3.1 per cent, above the three per cent cap set by the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development for most programs.

The 2016 provincial budget announced the Ontario Student Grant (OSG), a new needs-based grant that will provide non-repayable financial assistance to college and university students – some of whom will receive grants that exceed the costs of their tuition fees. The new program has the potential to increase access to higher education for thousands of students, particularly low-income students who have been chronically underrepresented in post-secondary institutions.

While the OSG will keep pace with tuition fee increases and inflation, the continued underfunding of post-secondary education overall by the province threatens to erode quality by continuing overreliance on part-time instructors, steady growth in average class sizes and crumbling infrastructure.

"If the province's commitment to access is not met with a commitment to quality, then students benefitting from new grants will find themselves in overcrowded classrooms with overworked instructors on campuses with underfunded support services," said Gayle McFadden, Ontario National Executive representative for the Federation. "Changes to student financial assistance were one step forward, we cannot allow rising tuition fees and chronic underfunding of higher education to take us two steps back."

The Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario is the largest and oldest student organization in Ontario, representing more than 350,000 college and university students in all regions of the province.

SOURCE Canadian Federation of Students - Ontario

For further information: Rajean Hoilett, Chairperson: 289-923-3534 or r.hoilett@cfsontario.ca; Gayle McFadden, Ontario National Executive Representative: 416-885-5488 or g.mcfadden@cfsontario.ca


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