Maritime Students Respond to Ontario Post-Secondary Announcement

Maritime Students Respond to Ontario Post-Secondary Announcement

Yesterday, the Ontario government announced sweeping changes to tuition, financial aid, and mandatory fees. These changes will greatly affect the landscape of post-secondary in Ontario, with effects primarily being felt by lower-income students. However, decreased funding to post-secondary and the elimination of mandatory fees will harm all students on Ontario campuses. As organizations that fight for greater affordability, accessibility, quality, and the increased role of student voice, this announcement is alarming in several respects.

“We are concerned by the recent announcement made by the Ontario Government,” says UPEI Student Union Vice President Emma Drake. “It is disappointing that these changes will benefit mostly higher-income students and while being at the detriment of low-income students.”Under the new framework proposed for the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP), grants will predominantly be provided to students whose income is less than $50,000, with a reduction in grant size. For students from low and middle income families, this means that they will be expected to pay more out of pocket, which will increase student loan debt. High debt levels have been linked to slow economic growth, which will be more significant due to the cut of the 6 month OSAP repayment grace period. Students from all income backgrounds deserve access to education, and this decision greatly impairs the ability of low and middle income families to attend post-secondary.

The announcement also highlighted tuition reduction for domestic students by 10%, citing this as a win for students. This reduction will result in annual decreased institutional revenue by $450-500 million, or roughly 3-4% of total revenue. Without government funding to meet this gap, institutions will face higher financial burden, affecting the quality of infrastructure, course materials, services, and student life on campus overall.

This could lead to measures such as increasing international student tuition to cover costs, which remains unaffected by the 10% reduction. Thus, while some students will benefit from this 10% reduction, all students will face the negative recourse of decreased institutional funding.

“We are displeased that this government fails to see the essential value the student unions provide to areas of student funding, campus life and student representation,” further explains Drake.

With well established student organizations and advocacy structures, students are able to clearly speak out about the detrimental effects of these changes to tuition, OSAP and fees. However, in the future, without campus student organizations which are operated by and for students – they will not have this ability to speak out. In other words, student advocacy and the ability to hold institutions to account in under attack. These changes are an affront to the affordability, accessibility, and quality of education in Ontario, and also poses the threat of eliminating student voice.

Institutions will lose revenue, making it harder to provide a quality educational experience. Student voices will be stifled out of important conversations around decision making. This decision will dramatically impact campus life in Ontario, to the vast detriment of students.

The UPEISU is joining the New Brunswick Student Alliance and StudentsNS to stand in solidarity with the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance and the College Student Alliance in urging the Ontario Government to consider the detrimental impacts of these decisions.