TORONTO, Feb. 18, 2015 /CNW/ - This year marks the first time that student dollars eclipse public funding as a share of Ontario university operating budgets. Almost 51% of universities' budgets are funded by student tuition fee dollars, a reflection of declining public investment in higher education by the Ontario government.
"Ontario universities are no longer publicly funded institutions, they are now 'publicly assisted', and that's because Ontario students are now footing most of the bill," said Alastair Woods, Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students- Ontario. "Post-secondary education is becoming increasingly inaccessible in our province, which has negative consequences not only for an entire generation of young people, but the very future of our province."
The statistic comes from a recently released Council of Ontario Financial Offices-Universities of Ontario report that shows students now contribute the majority of funds to run Ontario's universities. This reality is reflective of years of chronic underfunding that has pushed universities to rely more and more on annual tuition fee increases to meet rising operating costs.
Students in Ontario pay the highest tuition fees in the country, while the Ontario government contributes the lowest per student funding in Canada. Despite paying more than other students in Canada, Ontario students still study in the largest class sizes and with the worst student-teacher ratio. The Canadian Federation of Students- Ontario is calling for an immediate reduction in tuition fees to 2005 levels, when the Liberal government revoked the tuition fee freeze they instituted after winning the 2003 election.
"Average debt loads in Ontario for students who must finance their education through loans is $27,000," said Woods, "It is unconscionable that the provincial government has allowed students and their families to shoulder the responsibility of keeping our public universities financially stable."
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: Alastair Woods, Chairperson: 416-925-3825 or [email protected]