By Chelsea Howard
The Canadian Federation of Students met with MPPs in Ontario on Tuesday, pushing for a 35 per cent reduction in tuition fees.
The lobbying action comes as students across the province face tuition increases of upwards to five per cent next year.
“We’re currently asking for about a 35 per cent reduction back to 2005 levels when the Liberals unfroze tuition fees,” Anna Goldfinch, Ontario Representative of the Canadian Federation of Students, told Humber News on Tuesday.
As of now, the average tuition fee for full-time undergraduate for the province of Ontario is more than $7,500 in comparison to a low $1,176 in 1985.
Tuition fees for international students is deregulated, making it easy for institutions to choose whether or not they increase fees, Goldfinch said.
The federation of student action comes in the middle of the group’s annual lobby week at Queens Park.
According to Statistics Canada, full-time students in undergraduate programs in this country have paid more than three per cent more on average in tuition fees for the 2014/2015 academic school year than they did in the previous year.
In terms of how the reduction would benefit students, a tuition cut “would make it so that education would be much more accessible for all Ontario students, since Ontario is the most expensive province to attend post-secondary,” Goldfinch said.
“Tuition increases need to go hand in hand with increases in provincial funding to universities because the funding to universities has stayed the same or slightly less for a student for a long time,” said Ben Coleman, a student governor at the University of Toronto.
He said he wants to see the province retake ownership of the universities and to fund them properly.
“Right now we’re in a situation where people can just afford to access education if they’re from a lower income family, and we really want to be in a situation where it’s easier for them to afford education, so it won’t be such a struggle,” said Coleman.
Future student at George Brown, Madeleine St.Pierre, agreed with the push for lower tuition.
“I support the Canadian Federation of Students in their demand for tuition reduction, but additionally I think education should be free, and North America is a poor example of how education systems should be run,” St.Pierre said.
“Tuition fees have been going up for 10 years now under the Liberal government, and students have been actually seeing less and less for that money. They see quality diminish, they see programs cut, the see costs increase, there’s absolutely no advantage to tuition fees going up,” said Goldfinch.
St.Pierre said it encourages student debt that is almost life long or decades long, and “that’s not a good system for the country.”
In addition to the current lobbyists, a news release on Canada News Wire said two student unions at Ryerson University launched a campaign entitled Freeze the Fees to raise awareness about the high cost of attending post-secondary.