Ontario’s tuition freeze at colleges, universities continues for 3 consecutive years

Ontario extended a tuition freeze for public colleges and universities for a third year and set up a panel of experts to “enhance the financial sustainability” of the post-secondary education sector.

Colleges and Universities Minister Jill Dunlop said in a news release Thursday that the freeze will continue for the 2023-2024 school year for Ontario students, while allowing post-secondary institutions to increase their fees for domestic students outside the province by up to five. percent.

The Progressive Conservative government reduced tuition fees by 10 percent for the 2019-20 school year and has frozen rates since then.

Post-secondary institutions say the freeze is undermining their ability to respond to increased cost pressures.

“The current situation is not sustainable,” wrote Linda Franklin, president and CEO of Colleges Ontario in a statement.

“Ontario must find meaningful solutions that ensure students continue to gain the professional skills to succeed in their careers.”

The freeze will ‘erode’ support for students, schools say

Steve Orsini, president and CEO of the University of Ontario Council, said the extended tuition freeze was disappointing.

“Without immediate financial support and tuition flexibility, financial pressure on universities will continue to increase, further eroding the sector’s ability to support students,” he wrote in a statement.

The board said last year that the 10 percent tuition cut and subsequent freeze had cost the sector $1.2 billion since 2019 and each additional year of the freeze means universities lose $740 million in revenue.

Government tuition cuts were introduced at the same time the province was cutting free tuition programs for low-income students.

Dunlop also announced Thursday the formation of a panel of experts to provide advice on financial sustainability post-secondary.

“Laying the foundations for the financial sustainability of the post-secondary education sector will protect it for current and future students, ensuring they can continue to receive the world-class education provided by Ontario’s post-secondary institutions,” Dunlop wrote in a statement.

Panel to advise on long term policy

The panel is set to provide advice and recommendations to ministers in the summer on “long-term tuition policies that take into account access to and the quality of the learning experience,” the government said.

Panel members were tasked with looking at improving student experience and access, “rewarding excellence”, financial sustainability, labor market alignment and affordability.

A final report last year from the auditor general of Ontario found that the effect of reducing and freezing tuition fees is that universities should increase their reliance on tuition fees for international students.

“High dependence on enrollment of international students by universities poses risks beyond the control of ministries and universities, such as the potential loss of large numbers of students if individuals from one country are suddenly unable to obtain study permits (visas). ) or barred from entering Canada,” wrote Bonnie Lysyk.