According to Statistics Canada, Ontario university students pay the highest average domestic tuition in Canada. Undergraduates pay 13 per cent more than their peers in Nova Scotia, the next most expensive province. Even after accounting for student support paid from university operating budgets, Ontario domestic and international students together pay on average 41 per cent more in fees than in the rest of Canada.
Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) researcher Iglika Ivanova’s Seven Reasons to Support Low Tuition Fees was produced for the BC context, but could just as easily be written with Ontario in mind. Among other things, she contends that affordable fees are a matter of equity and that there are social benefits to higher education that extend well beyond private returns to individuals. Her piece is well worth a read, but her seven reasons in brief are:
1. Making university education more affordable would allow more Canadians to access this key tool for social mobility.
2. Financial barriers to education impact Canada’s economic well-being.
3. Questions of access to education are more important today than ever before because higher education is increasingly becoming a standard job requirement.
4. Student loans don’t make up for high tuition fees.
5. An educated society benefits everybody, not just the people who go to university.
6. The fact that individuals gain from having higher education is not sufficient reason to rely on tuition (i.e. user fees) to finance education.
7. Education is a great investment for our public dollars: students repay the full cost of their education through taxes over their working careers.
Sources: Statistics Canada, Statistics Canada Postsecondary Student Information System; Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada Association of Atlantic Universities; Conférence des recteurs et des principaux des universités du Québec; MTCU; British Columbia Higher Education Accountability Dataset
Canadian Association of University Business Officers