Students shut out of private vote on tuition fee hikes at uOttawa

OTTAWA, May 26, 2014 /CNW/ - The Board of Governors of the University of Ottawa has blocked students from attending a meeting where a vote on a proposal to hike tuition fees is taking place. The board is holding their vote in a closed teleconference today at 5:30pm. If the vote passes, this will be the ninth consecutive year of tuition fee hikes at the University of Ottawa, which already boasts domestic and international tuition fees well above the national average.

Students will be rallying outside the entrance to 083 Tabaret Hall, where the meeting was to take place, at 5pm in opposition to the Board's decision.

"Students in Ontario pay the highest tuition fees in the country, yet sit in the largest classrooms and experience the worst student to professor ratio," said Anne-Marie Roy, President of the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO). "And now the Board wants us to pay even more and refuses to face students. Students are telling the board enough is enough."

The proposal being discussed by the Board of Governors recommends increasing tuition fees by the maximum legal amount under the current provincial fee framework: three per cent for domestic undergraduate students and five per cent for domestic students in graduate and professional programs. International student fees remain entirely unregulated and are increased every year on the whim of the Board. Last year, the Board voted to increase international students tuition fees by 10 per cent.

High tuition fees have forced more students to borrow to fund their degree. Average student debt in Ontario after a four year degree is $37,000 for students with both public and private debt. In total, students and graduates in Ontario owe $2.8 billion to the Ontario government.

The Chair of the Board of Governors, Robert Giroux, announced just 3 days ago that the in-person meeting would instead be held by telephone in order to avoid any interruption or confrontation with students.

"Budgets are about priorities," said Nicole Desnoyers, Vice President of Services and Communications of the SFUO. "By increasing tuition fees year after year and prohibiting access to the University's highest governing body, the Board of Governors is making a clear statement that students are not a priority for the University of Ottawa."

The Student Federation of the University of Ottawa represents 35,000 full and part time undergraduate students at the University of Ottawa.

SOURCE: Student Federation of the University of Ottawa

For further information: Chris Hynes, V.P of University Affairs, SFUO, (613) 875-0978; Anne-Marie Roy, President, SFUO, (613) 218-1138

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