Brock University Students’ Union (BUSU) responds to the new tuition framework
January 17, 2019
ST. CATHARINES, ON - Today, the provincial government announced changes to Ontario’s tuition framework for universities, including a 10% decrease in domestic undergraduate and professional tuition across all programs. Post-secondary students in Ontario have faced the highest tuition fees nationwide and affordability remains a high priority for Ontario students and their families. Students are pleased to see the provincial government's initiative to address high educational costs by reducing tuition fees, as well as a freeze on tuition in the following years.
However, BUSU is concerned about the changes to the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP), particularly the reduction of needs-based grants and shift from a predominantly grants-based system to a loans-based one. BUSU is also concerned about the impact the reduction of tuition, without restored public funding, will have on the quality of education. We are disappointed as this shift will put more of a burden on students and families when it comes to debt repayments and upfront access, but we are optimistic that the government is still putting a priority on supporting those who need help the most.
BUSU believes that all willing and qualified students in Ontario should be able to access and excel within Ontario’s post-secondary education system. Students in Ontario face the highest tuition fees nationwide and many students rely on student financial aid programs (e.g. OSAP) to afford post-secondary education.
Students have worked with the government to transform the OSAP system to increase the affordability of post-secondary education for students who need it most. Changes to OSAP, including a repurposing of $365 million into upfront grants, have created a more accessible student financial assistance system and allowed more students to receive financial aid.
While a decrease in tuition will provide some financial relief to all students, the government’s decision to reduce OSAP eligibility and replace grant funding with loans will impact students who need it the most. Additionally, student loans on their own will not address the financial burden placed on many students who are unable to take on high levels of debts.
“A reduction in tuition is going to benefit all students across the province of Ontario” – said Aidan Hibma, President of the Brock University Students’ Union “Nevertheless, the changes made to OSAP are quite concerning as government’s decision to move back from grants to loans and the timeframe in which interest on those loans begins to accumulate will have serious implications on student debt.”
Students recognize that institutions have become increasingly reliant on student tuition fees as a result of limited government funding through operating grants. That is why OUSA has long advocated for restoring public funding to post-secondary education and creating a fairer cost-sharing model.
With the government’s decision to allow students to opt-out of student association fees, BUSU is concerned about the impact that this will have on its ability to provide critical services that support students’ and their mental health, safety, and student experience needs.
- After restoring a fairer cost-sharing model, tuition increases for all programs should be capped at Consumer Price Index for Ontario, maintaining the same fair-cost sharing ratio;
- Regulating international tuition rates and increases at the same percentage as domestic tuition;
- The repayment of student loans should not begin until six months after ceasing studies and only if the individual has the economic means to do so;
- The provincial government should increase the amount of non-repayable financial aid available to students.
OUSA's Student Financial Assistance policy paper is currently under review and set to be updated at our next General Assembly meeting from March 1 - 3, 2019.
Brock University Students' Union represents the interests of 18,000 undergraduate students at Brock University who study in the Niagara Region. It is the mission of BUSU to effectively represent undergraduate students to all relevant stakeholders and to enhance the benefits of attending Brock University by providing a variety of programs, opportunities, and services while creating an atmosphere and culture of acceptance, inclusion, and tolerance.
President, Brock University Students’ Union