Several Greater Toronto Area news outlets announced that Ontario’s government planned to implement a standardized tuition rate for Ontario universities, only to have the announcement dismissed as a rumour by Glenn Murray, the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, last week.
Several media outlets, including the Toronto Star and Study Magazine, published stories stating that Ontario’s government was going to impose a flat rate of $5,366 for tuition fees for arts and sciences programs at all universities in Ontario.
U of T’s Arts and Science Student Union’s president, York University’s president, University of Windsor’s president, and several other Ontario university presidents all weighed in on the alleged standardization. Some balked at the increases they would need to make, while others complained about the thousands of dollars they would lose, but all were confused as to why the Ontario government would suddenly seek to take away universities’ already limited tuition-setting autonomy.
The source of the alleged proposal remains unnamed. Ontario officials declined to comment.
The next day, both the Globe and Mail and Maclean’s discredited the Toronto Star article after Murray called the newspaper report “false”.
The claim may have come about in anticipation of an update on the tuition policy plans by the provincial government, which was due later this month.
The actual plans, detailed in a news release from the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, include allowing universities to increase tuition fees by up to five percent. This is the seventh year in a row the tuition cap has been raised.
The Canadian Federation of Students, the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance, and many university student union presidents expressed disappointment, outrage, and confusion at the apparently contradictory policy of the Liberal party. They hoped for a more comprehensive long-term plan for tuition, but instead saw the tuition cap renewed and extended for another year.
The news release stated that the possibility of a tuition fee moratorium would not be considered until at least 2013. The idea of standardized fees may be appealing, but policies will need to be put in place beforehand to protect students from being unfairly charged.
A flat tuition rate would mean students pay the same fees per year, regardless of how many credits they take. This could disadvantage students who cannot take a full course load because they have to work or have other commitments, for example.
In the face of the tuition cap raise, the policy also stated that the 30% tuition rebate for eligible students promised during the election campaign would continue next year.