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Say it with words
Students get the deep freeze
Apr 16, 2004
By Cindy Wells

NORTHUMBERLAND - Ontario has frozen college and university tuition for the next two years, marking the first tuition freeze in Ontario's history.

Ontario's Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, Mary Anne Chambers made the announcement last week.

Making sure post-secondary education is accessible and affordable, Ms. Chambers says, is crucial to building the most highly-skilled and educated workforce.

"It's great to see that the government is recognizing there is a problem with tuition costs and is working towards a resolution," says Ken Swan, Durham College and University of Ontario Institute of Technology Student Association President.

UOIT and Durham College President Dr. Gary Polonsky also supports the tuition freeze. "I think tuition is especially high," he says, "especially for poor students."

The tuition freeze offers Rebecca Kinos-Varo, a graduating student at Cobourg District Collegiate Institute East "a little bit of relief." The university-bound student says now she can worry about more important things like grades, instead of money.

The freeze applies to both regulated and deregulated programs and the government also announced they will reimburse institutions to offset the loss of income by about $42 million for universities and about $6 million for colleges.

Dr. Polonsky says, "The government is off to a good start at adjusting our grants to compensate for lost tuition."

Although the additional funding will not account for all the money that will be lost, Dr. Polonsky says this is just a first step for the government and he is optimistic the full range of lost money will be made up.

Dr. Polonsky says Ontario's post-secondary education system has been eroding for more than 20 years, to the point where it is last in North America in terms of government funding. He says he takes Premier Dalton McGuinty on his word that he is committed to improving on that record and going down in history as the education premier.

Over the next few months, the government will consult with students, parents, industry partners, universities and colleges to develop a long-term education system to create a sustainable long-term funding plan, improved financial assistance for students and improved accountability.

"The money shouldn't be a big part of it, but it is," says Ms. Kinos-Varo.

Since 1986/87, regulated college tuition fees have risen from $595 per student to $1,786 in 2002/03, according to the Association of College of Applied Arts and Technology of Ontario,

Statistics Canada says undergraduate university tuition fees have gone up an average of 99 per cent in Canada in the last decade. In Ontario, fees went up by 137 per cent, the biggest increase in the country.

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