The Ontario Government is cutting tuition fees by 10%.
In what it’s calling the “first ever province-wide tuition reduction,” the province says this will make post-secondary education more affordable and accessible for students. The reduction will take place in the 2019-2020 school year, and tuition fees would be frozen for the following year.
“By lowering tuition across the entire province, our government is ensuring that all qualified Ontario students will have more affordable access to high-quality skills, training and education,” said Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities.
The province also announced that they will be “refocussing the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP). They said that this would ensure that the program remains sustainable.
“The previous government believed in handing out OSAP money to some of Ontario’s highest income earners with virtually no meaningful criteria for success,” said Fullerton.
“It is no surprise that student enrolment has remained flat while tuition rates skyrocketed. Instead of using OSAP to indirectly subsidize future rounds of tuition hikes, we will focus our resources on the families in greatest need while challenging our partners in the postsecondary sector to deliver better value for the high tuitions they already charge.”
But, the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario, which represents over 350,000 college and university students, sent out a word of warning.
“Students should remain cautious of reports of a 10% cut to tuition fees,” said the federation in a January 15 tweet. “Last month, ON Auditor General set the stage for major cuts to OSAP. We are concerned about the intentions of this announcement and whether it will make PSE (post-secondary education) more affordable.”
NDP Colleges and Universities critic Chris Glover said that Ontario already has the lowest per-student funding in Canada, and highest levels of debt, and thinks the cut will hurt students more than benefit them.
“Ontario’s college and university students know that they are not going to benefit from a Doug Ford government,” Glover said in a statement.
Glover added that there are reports that revealed that the Ford government is not going to fund the two-year tuition freeze its imposing, forcing colleges and universities to accept what is estimated to be a $250-million revenue loss.
The Ontario NDP is also concerned that Ontario Student Assistant Plan (OSAP) grants will actually be cut by Ford, something they say should be “improved, not hacked apart.”
In the end, students, they said, will be paying for the cut.
“That means cancelled courses, larger class sizes and laid-off faculty,” he said. “Students will likely pay for the freeze with two years of a lower quality education — followed by skyrocketing tuition in 2021 to make up for the shortfall.”