Tuition frozen for Ontario students

By Chris Beauchamp

Ontario post-secondary students received a two-year reprieve from tuition hikes following a tuition freeze by Premier Dalton McGuinty’s Liberal government. The freeze will be accompanied by a $48.1 million influx of funding to colleges and universities.

However, Alberta Learning spo- kesperson Josepha Vanderstoop defended Alberta’s policies, calling tuition freezes unsustainable.

"Alberta tuition fee policy is that tuition [should be] manageable and predictable," said Vanderstoop. "In Alberta, it’s pretty much been an average of five per cent annually. Just freezing tuition means you’re going to have to play catch up at some point.

"That’s not a way of contin- ually improving the system.It’s much better to say, on average, this is what’s going to happen each year."

The Canadian Alliance of Student Associations and the Canadian Federation of Students see the freeze as a positive first step, but also advocate further increases in government funding for post-secondary institutions.

"We’re happy the Ontario provincial government has kept their [campaign] promise," said CASA National Director James Kusie, noting the freeze come with adequate funding. "If you’re not funding it properly from the back end, then you’re going to run into a problem."

Kusie noted it is impossible to judge whether the $48.1 million will be enough to maintain quality until after the first year. He was concerned institutions could increase ancillary student fees "to curb what they think they could be losing."

Linda Chiarvesio, Ontario Minis- try of Training, Colleges and Universities spokesperson, stressed any ancillary fee increases would still follow regular approval procedures. She said the $48.1 million in new funding was based on average tuition increases of the past few years.

"The government here made a commitment they would deliver on a tuition freeze," she said. "This will sort of hold the system while we deliver a long-term solution."


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