The province has extended the three per cent annual cap on university and college tuition fee increases, with the cap scheduled to last for another two years.
The limit was set to expire in 2017 and takes place amidst the rolling out of the new Ontario Student Grant (OSG), which will see OSAP integrated with a number of distinct provincial and federal grants and loans to create a holistic system of financial aid. Between the rollout of the OSG and the imminent question of whether or not the Ontario Liberals will retain control of Queens Park after the 2018 election, there is significant pressure on the government to implement reforms.
University of Toronto Students’ Union President Jasmine Wong Denike views the extension of the caps not as an end in itself, but rather as a process through which to enact broader reform.
“Although I don’t think that renewing the tuition increase caps is sufficient, I see it as an opportunity for the government to meaningfully consult students, and student-run organizations, on their policy suggestions to ensure that as many students as possible have access to affordable, high-quality education,” she told The Varsity.
Denike continued: “The OSG and the extension of the caps heading into 2017 prove to be an interesting change, and given the upcoming Provincial Elections (2018) it gives students a real advantage in engaging with the government to ensure that student issues, especially tuition, play a major role moving forward.”
Deb Matthews, who is Ontario’s Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development, describes the extension as a stopgap measure before full financial aid reform.
“Limiting tuition fee increases balances affordability for students and their families, while providing postsecondary institutions with financial stability as we work to transform OSAP – making tuition free for low-income students and more affordable for students from middle-income families,” Matthews said in a press release. “Moving forward, we’ll continue to ensure that every qualified student has access to postsecondary education through our generous student financial aid program.”