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Opinion - Freeze the Fees 2013

Monday, January 21, 2013

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By Roisin Lyder

The Guelph Student Mobilization Committee (GSMC) is excited to present our new campaign - ‘Freeze the Fees 2013’.  This campaign is designed to tackle the problem of too high and ever-rising tuition fees by calling on the University of Guelph administration not to raise our fees again this year. 

Many people are well aware of the problems created by high tuition fees. Problems like inequality of access. In the last fifteen years participation of low and middle-income students has stagnated. It has been students from high-income families alone that have driven the overall enrollment growth in Ontario. Our overly expensive education system is shutting students out. Access to education should be based on merit and not parental income! Another major problem is debt. Student debt in Ontario has doubled in the last ten years. Students in Ontario now owe over $2.5 billion dollars to the provincial government alone. The tens of thousands of dollars of debt that many students graduate with can mean being held back from pursuing ideal careers or continuing to study. Young people who graduate in debt are less likely to own a home or have any savings. The GSMC advocates a post secondary education system where low-income families can afford to participate and where students can earn a degree without falling into major debt. The first step towards this goal will be winning a tuition fee freeze at the University of Guelph.

Post-secondary education is free in over 25 countries around the world, from Argentina, to Finland. Yet in Ontario, tuition fees are through the roof and we receive the lowest per student funding in the country. Since 1990, tuition fees have increasing 244%. Since 2006, under the provincial government “Reaching Higher Framework,” tuition fees have been allowed to increase every year, seeing an average 35% increase and as high as 71% depending on the program. At the University of Guelph, the Board of Governors has opted to increase our fees by 4 to 5% every year. This amounts to a 200 to 300 dollar increase every single year for most students.

The provincial government sets post secondary education funding, but it is the Board of Governors at the University of Guelph that actually decides whether or not to increase our tuition fees each and every year. The Board of Governors is the highest decision making body at the University and the members are primarily bigwigs from the private sector (reps from Royal Bank, Maple Leaf Foods, the Bank of Montreal, and Campbell’s Soup Company to name just a few). It is this decision making body that has the power to implement the tuition fee freeze that we are calling for with ‘Freeze the Fees 2013’.

The University of Guelph needs to stand together with its students on this critical issue. We agree completely with the lobby document released by the Central Student Association a year ago that calls for a freeze. The CSA stated the following: “Students recognize that universities face serious cost pressures stemming from the provincial government. We also acknowledge that the final decisions in regards to increasing tuition will be decided at the Board of Governors level at the University of Guelph. A freeze … [regardless of] what other Universities choose to do, would go a long way in sending a clear message to the public and the government that the University of Guelph is serious about addressing sky-rocketing tuition fees. It would put real pressure on the provincial and federal governments to address the needs of the University, but this is only possible once governments realize that institutions are no longer willing to make up budget shortfalls on the backs of students.”

We call on the Board of Governors to freeze our fees at the current rate. We call on students to join the campaign. Sign our petition and come out to rally with us at 1pm in the UC during the Board of Governors meetings on January 30th and April 17th! They need to know that if they raise tuition fees, we raise hell!

The opinions posted on thecannon.ca reflect those of their author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Central Student Association and the Guelph Campus Co-op. We encourage all students to submit opinion pieces, including ones that run contrary to the opinion piece in question.

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