New report on higher education links access to income, students call for fees
to drop

TORONTO, Sept. 17 /CNW/ - A report released yesterday by the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO) links higher tuition fees to lower participation among low-income high school students, a finding that is no surprise to college and university students. The report confirmed what students have identified for years, that higher tuition fees are a barrier to access for students from low-income and middle-low income families.

"A high school student from a low-income family or from a rural area of Ontario must have the same access to a university or college degree as a student from a high-income family in an urban centre," said Shelley Melanson, Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario. "This report indicates that high school students from high-income backgrounds are far more likely to apply to university than students from low-income backgrounds, and that this gap is steadily growing. It is clear that equal access to higher education is a myth and students need lower tuition fees."

While the report analysed data up until 2005, it has been released just weeks after a recent Statistics Canada report that found that students in Ontario have faced record-high levels of unemployment during the summer months. This reality, when combined with high fees and high debt, paints a bleak picture for many students hoping to pursue a college or university education in order to improve their opportunities.

Students in Ontario pay tuition fees that are set to become the highest in Canada as Ontario's funding for post-secondary education continues to fall short of the national average. Record debt levels that reach as high as $28,000 for a four-year program greet those who are fortunate enough to attend college or university.

"If the Ontario Government is serious about addressing poverty and expanding access to post-secondary education, it must invest in post-secondary education and drop fees," said Melanson. "Ignoring these warning signs and further indebting this current generation of students will have negative consequences for graduates and the economy."

The Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario unites more than 300,000 college and university students studying at public post-secondary institutions across the province. Students are planning rallies across Ontario on November 5, 2009 to call for government investment in lower fees and new investments in social programs aimed at reducing poverty.

SOURCE Canadian Federation of Students

For further information: For further information: Shelley Melanson, CFS-Ontario Chairperson, (416) 925-3825 or (416) 882-9927 (cell); Joel Duff, CFS-Ontario Organiser, (416) 925-3825 or (416) 707-0349 (cell)

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