Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Students, Schools Unhappy with Reduced Ontario Cap on Annual Tuition Fee Hikes

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Students, Schools Unhappy with Reduced Ontario Cap on Annual Tuition Fee Hikes

Article excerpt

Ontario reduces cap on annual tuition hikes

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TORONTO - In a move aimed at striking a balance between the needs of students and public post-secondary institutions, the Ontario government announced Thursday it is lowering the cap on average tuition fee increases over the next four years.

But the news didn't appear to satisfy either student advocates or representatives for colleges and universities.

Under a new framework announced by the governing Liberals, annual tuition fee increases will be capped at an average of three per cent. Previously, colleges and universities were allowed to hike tuition by an average of five per cent.

"We've had to arrive at what I call a balanced solution," said Brad Duguid, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities.

"We want to make sure that while we're reducing the future burden for students when it comes to future tuition increases, we also have to balance that off with ensuring we continue to have a globally competitive post-secondary education system."

Duguid acknowledged the new cap -- which is one percentage point above Ontario's average rate of inflation over the past decade -- will be tough for colleges and universities, which will now be receiving less revenue.

"We're going to work with them to overcome that," he said. "It's a balance between quality and affordability."

The province says the fee system can still be flexible -- with some programs increasing more and some less as long as an institution's tuition increases average three per cent a year overall.

Tuition for professional and graduate university programs and high-demand college programs may be increased by up to five per cent, down from eight per cent previously.

The details didn't impress the Ontario branch of the Canadian Federation of Students, which had presented the province with its own recommendations for a tuition fee framework last month.

"Lowering the cap is ensuring that tuition fees will increase and continue to increase over the next four years," said chairperson Sarah Jayne King, whose group had suggested a 30 per cent tuition fee reduction over the next three years. …

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