Starting May 1, U of T has adopted a new fee schedule for student tuition in the coming year, with undergraduate international tuition increasing by an average of 2.1 per cent and graduate international tuition increasing by an average of 3.8 per cent. Domestic tuition will stay the same, since it has been frozen by the Ontario government.
The fee schedule was approved at the April 6 meeting of U of T’s Governing Council, despite year-long efforts of student groups to lower tuition, particularly international tuition in light of difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and online classes. Over the past decade, international fees have risen by 41.2 per cent overall.
Student groups say that the new fee schedule continues to be unfair for students in higher tuition programs, such as computer science, bioinformatics and computational biology, and data science. The Ontario government previously deregulated these programs, allowing them to have higher fees.
The approved tuition rates will be in place for the 2021–2022 academic year.
Tuition levels for the 2021–2022 school year
The Ontario government froze domestic tuition in 2020, so it will stay the same for the 2021–2022 school year. However, international tuition will increase next year.
For international students in the Faculty of Arts & Science (FAS) and the Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design, the tuition will increase by two per cent next year, while the tuition for international students in the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering will increase by three per cent. The tuition for international students entering other faculties, such as the Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education, will mostly increase by five per cent.
Though the increase in tuition is lower than it has been in the past — international tuition for students in the FAS and the Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design saw their tuition rise by four per cent in the previous year — the increases in international tuition are part of an overall trend of increasing international tuition. As the province has continued to cut post-secondary funding, universities have been forced to turn to other sources of revenue, including international tuition fees.
Student activism against the fee schedule
Student leaders who spoke at the Governing Council meeting included Evan Kanter, former Director of External Relations for the Computer Science Student Union; Tyler Riches, former Vice-President Public & University Affairs of the University of Toronto Students’ Union; and Mitra Yakubi, recently re-elected President of the University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union.
The efforts of student leaders at the April 6 meeting are a part of the larger Same Degree, Same Fee Campaign — a cross-campus campaign to standardize tuition across programs at U of T. Currently, students enrolled in certain programs, including computer science, bioinformatics and computational biology, and data science, pay almost double of what their counterparts in other FAS programs pay. The campaign aims to lobby the university into making all undergraduate degrees cost the same amount in tuition.
Kanter, Riches, and Yakubi criticised the university for continuing to charge students in some programs more than others, as well as for the higher tuition fees paid by international students at U of T. They also criticized the fact that students that are enrolled in programs with lower fees are still able to take courses in higher tuition programs without being enrolled, meaning that students in different programs are effectively paying vastly different amounts for the same class.
Vice-President & Provost Cheryl Regehr defended the fee difference during the meeting, on the grounds that students in programs with higher fees — such as computer science — have priority enrolment access to courses in their program, which makes it significantly easier to earn the degree. Regehr also noted that students with degrees in these programs tend to have more earning potential than their counterparts in other programs.