Today, the provincial government formally announced a new tuition framework for Ontario universities, including lowering tuition rates by 10 per cent, significant changes to the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP), and revised compulsory ancillary fee guidelines.
The Students’ Union believes that it is imperative that any tuition cuts are paired with increased government investment in post-secondary institutions. Ontario universities already receive the lowest levels of per-student public funding in Canada. We are committed to an affordable, accessible, and high quality academic experience, but recognize that without greater investment from the provincial government this cut represents a marginal short-term benefit designed to distract from insufficient long-term public funding.
Of particular concern for the Students’ Union are the changes to OSAP. By significantly shifting the focus from grants to loans, and lowering the qualifying family income threshold, the provincial government is limiting accessibility and imposing a greater debt burden on students. In addition, by re-introducing interest charges during the six-month repayment grace period the government continues to contradict its emphasis on post-secondary affordability.
The Students’ Union prides itself on being an integral part of Laurier’s renowned student experience. As institutional budgets have struggled to adapt to decreased public funding, student organizations have consistently and positively enhanced life on campus. Ancillary fees at Laurier support essential elements of student health and safety, career-building co-curricular leadership opportunities, peer-support services, and enable engagement with global affairs far beyond our campuses and communities.
We are dedicated to working constructively with the university to navigate the budgetary implications of the new tuition framework, and clearly reiterate the essential services that underpin the Laurier student experience.