Student associations condemn StatsCan tuition report

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Universal condemnation from major student associations greeted Statistics Canada’s annual report on university tuition fees.

The report, released yesterday morning, was administered from April to June 2007 and saw some changes from its previous editions.

“We made three important changes this year,” Raynald Lortie of Statistics Canada said. “We’ve expanded the survey from about 60 schools to over 95, implemented a new coding system and increased details on the costs of graduate tuition.”

Lortie explained the new coding system meant more accurate enrolment data could be used to calculate weighted tuition fees, which provides a more realistic picture of tuition costs.

Lortie also pointed out, “On the undergraduate level, Ontario is one of the provinces where tuition has increased the most.”

Overall, undergraduate students in Ontario are paying an average of $5,381 for tuition, a 4.4 per cent increase over last year. Nationally, undergraduate students are paying an average of $4,524 per year, a 2.8 per cent increase.

At $5,878, students in Nova Scotia are being hit hardest for tuition, while students from Newfoundland and Labrador are only paying $2,633.

The Canadian Federation of Students, Canadian Alliance of Student Associations and Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance all condemned the results of the survey.

“[The report] confirms Ontario students have been hit with the second highest tuition hikes in the federation,” David Simmonds, OUSA President and VP-university affairs for the University Students’ Council said.

“What’s really disappointing is that Ontario students pay 40 per cent of university operating costs, while the average across Canada is 30 per cent.”

The fact the national average increase of tuition was down compared to both last year and the previous decade’s average was taken as a good sign.

“It’s definitely an effect of students and families taking action and governments responding,” Jen Hassum, chairperson of CFS, said. “The good news is that we saw all political parties reinvesting in post-secondary initiatives during the [Ontario provincial election].”

Zach Churchill, national director of CASA, stressed the need for students to work together nationally on tuition costs.

“Any tuition fee is just adding to an already high cost ... We’ve seen [at universities] in eastern Canada less people coming up the system, and in many cases this is because they can’t afford it.”

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