The UPEI Student Union is voicing concern over recent changes to tuition, financial aid and mandatory fees announced by the Ontario government.
Emma Drake, vice-president of the student union, said these changes will greatly affect the landscape of post-secondary in Ontario with effects primarily felt by lower-income students.
She added that decreased funding to post-secondary and the elimination of mandatory fees will harm all students on Ontario campuses.
“It is disappointing that these changes will benefit mostly higher-income students while being at the detriment of low-income students,’’ Drake said.
Under the new framework proposed for the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP), grants will predominantly be provided to students whose income is less than $50,000, with a reduction in grant size. For students from low- and middle-income families, this means they will be expected to pay more out of pocket, which will increase student loan debt. High debt levels have been linked to slow economic growth, which will be more significant due to the cut of the six-month OSAP repayment grace period.
“We are displeased that this government fails to see the essential value the student unions provide to areas of student funding, campus life and student representation.”
She said students from all income backgrounds deserve access to education, and this decision greatly impairs the ability of low- and middle-income families to attend post-secondary schools.
The announcement also highlighted tuition reduction for domestic students by 10 per cent, citing this as a win for students. This reduction will result in annual decreased institutional revenue by $450-500 million or roughly three to four per cent of total revenue. Without government funding to meet this gap, institutions will face higher financial burden, affecting the quality of infrastructure, course materials, services and student life on campus overall.
This could lead to measures such as increasing international student tuition to cover costs, which remains unaffected by the 10 per cent reduction. Thus, while some students will benefit from this reduction, all students will face the negative recourse of decreased institutional funding.
“We are displeased that this government fails to see the essential value the student unions provide to areas of student funding, campus life and student representation,” said Drake.