University of Toronto Students Protest 20 Per Cent Fee Increase



    TORONTO, March 20 /CNW/ - Today, University of Toronto students will
demonstrate outside of the New College Residence and march to Simcoe Hall to
protest a 20 per cent residence fee increase.

    
    What:   Rally to protest residence fee increase

    When:   Thursday, March 20, 2008 at 1:00 p.m.

    Where:  Starting outside of the New College Residence (45 Wilcocks St. at
            Spadina Ave.) then marching to Simcoe Hall, 27 King's College
            Circle, Toronto.
    

    Representatives of the University of Toronto Students' Union are calling
on the University of Toronto to stop downloading the costs of operating the
public institution onto to already debt-burdened students.
    "The proposed fee hike is supposed to help pay off a $6 million debt
incurred after the construction of a new residence building for New College.
The burden of paying off this debt is being unfairly downloaded to students,
to the tune of more than $1,000 in fees next year," said Parmbir Gill, New
College student and campus organizer with a group called Always Question.
    The University is using government under-funding to justify higher
tuition fees and soaring ancillary fees, which will be paid for by most
students with more loan debt. Some universities and colleges in Ontario have
been increasing ancillary fees by more than 20 per cent annually to get around
the limitations on increasing tuition fees which are more strictly regulated.
    "User fee increases that make on-campus housing unaffordable, especially
in an expensive city like Toronto, will limit low-income students' ability to
access the University of Toronto in the same way that high tuition fees are a
barrier to access," said Ryan Hayes, president of the Arts and Science
Students' Union.
    The University Affairs Board of the University of Toronto's Governing
Council is scheduled to meet on March 25 and is expected to pass not only the
residence fee increase, but huge fee increases to student support, athletics
and other ancillary services as well. On April 10, the Council is scheduled
set tuition fees for next year.
    "The University of Toronto is expected to increase tuition fees by the
maximum amount allowed under the McGuinty government's Reaching Higher plan
for higher tuition fees," said Michal Hay, Vice-President University Affairs
of the University of Toronto Students' Union. "The University is also
preparing to increase tuition fees charged to international students by as
much as 23 per cent for some programs. This increase will be on top of the
nearly 65 per cent fee increase international students have experienced since
2002."
    "Government under-funding is the main reason students are being forced to
shoulder an historically high percentage of the cost of operating public
universities and colleges," said Dave Scrivener, Vice-President External of
the University of Toronto Students' Union. "High tuition fees are a double tax
on students and their families that keep some students out altogether and
force others to dampen their academic and career aspirations. Unaffordable
student debt and crumbling campus buildings are the result of the McGuinty
government's decision to mask insufficient funding for post-secondary
education with fee hikes that cannot make up the difference."
    Students across Ontario continue to call on the McGuinty government to
roll back tuition fees to 2004 levels and freeze them for all students in the
2008 budget. The Ontario government must also commit to a corresponding
increase of per-student funding for post-secondary education that will bring
the province to the head of the pack instead of barely meeting the national
average.




For further information:

For further information: Parmbir Gill, New College student and organizer
with the group Always Question: (905) 334-8951; Dave Scrivener, Vice-President
External, University of Toronto Students' Union: (416) 518-7353; Michal Hay,
Vice-President University Affairs, University of Toronto Students' Union,
(416) 978-4911 ext. 230 or (647) 802-4131 (cell); Ryan Hayes, President of
Arts and Science Students Union, (416) 978-4903 or (416) 655-0161 (cell)

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