Sudbury

University faculty association raises concern about tuition changes

The president of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations says the Ford government’s changes to post-secondary tuition will impact the quality of education offered across the province.

Tuition going down by 10 per cent but free tuition eliminated for low-income students

The president of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations says the Ford government's changes to post-secondary tuition will impact the quality of education offered across the province.

On Thursday, the Progressive Conservative government announced it will eliminate free tuition for students from low-income families while also cutting tuition fees by 10 per cent.

The previous Liberal government increased the number of grants and allowed low-income students to attend college or university free of cost.

A recent auditor general report found the costs for that program jumped by 25 per cent and warned it could grow to $2 billion annually by 2020-21.

Gyllian Phillips, the president of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations says she's concerned there will be no increase in public funding for schools to make up the difference in revenue loss.

"The cut in student fees is good for students but not for universities," she said.

"It's not being balanced with any increase in funding from somewhere else and as a result the quality of education that that tuition is paying for is, I would say, under threat."

Gyllian Phillips is the president of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations. (Benjamin Aubé/CBC)

But a spokesperson at a college in Sudbury says he feels his school can manage the changes.

"We've been very prudent in our financial stewardship and we've also experienced growing enrolment over the past couple of years so we think that we will be able to manage through these changes," Dan Lessard, with Cambrian College said.

"One of the things that we want to say to potential students is that we have a number of programs to help students make college more affordable such as awards and bursaries and on-campus employment."

'Negative impacts'

Also announced by the Ford government was the elimination of a six month grace period students had to start repaying their student loans after graduation.

Kathryn Kettle, the vice president of policy and advocacy at the Students General Association at Laurentian University, says she has concerns about that change.

"Decrease in tuition benefits students but we're concerned about the negative impacts that announced changes to OSAP will have to students and families, particularly around debt when students are leaving university," she said.

Kettle says students are also concerned that OSAP will be offering less needs-based grants and moving to more loans.

While a 10 percent decrease in tuition might sound great for students, there is no increase in public funding for institutions to make up the difference in revenue loss. We spoke at the lower tuition fees and changes to OSAP, the Ontario Student Assistance Program, with Gyllian Phillips, the President of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations. 8:56

With files from Jamie-Lee McKenzie

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