Education costs continue to be pushed onto students
By Dylan Hackett, News Editor
According to newly released data from Statistics Canada and a report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) think-tank, the rise in tuition rates across Canada from 2011 to 2012 totaled five per cent, while inflation rose a paltry 1.3 per cent in the same measured time period. The figures reflect the long-term offsetting of educational costs from provincial governments to families and students. Proportionally, the provincial support for university budgets had decreased from 84 per cent of the budget to the current average of 58 per cent from 1979 to 2009.
“Governments are continuing to shift the cost of public education onto the backs of students and their families,” said Adam Awad, National Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS). “By increasing tuition fees in a time of economic uncertainty, provincial governments are further reducing access to education and skills training.”
The current average annual tuition expenditure is $6,186 with an expected four-year hike to $7,330, according to the CCPA.
There is also a vast difference in costs of post-secondary education from province to province in Canada. The disparity of costs between the most affordable province, Newfoundland and Labrador, and the most expensive, Ontario, is, on average, $2,861 for the former and $7,513 for the latter.
“Throughout the 1990s, Newfoundland and Labrador’s tuition fees were at approximately the Canadian average, but in 1999–2000 the province implemented a freeze, and then from 2002–05 rolled back fees a total of 25 per cent to 1996–97 levels and froze them there,” cited the CCPA report. “Median incomes for an average family with children in Newfoundland and Labrador have steadily risen from $48,900 in 1990 to $82,783 for 2010—the fastest rate of income increase of any Canadian province.“
“Students’ willingness, not geography, should determine whether they go to university or college,” said Awad. “In the absence of a national vision for post-secondary education, the federal government cannot ensure that students across the country have comparable access to higher education.”
Co-author of the CCPA report stated that 60 per cent of those who graduate from post-secondary are left with an average of $27,000 student loan debt—a figure that doesn’t include privately incurred debt.
The CFS hopes for the rising cost of post-secondary for students and the inter-provincial price disparity in tuition to be corrected by federal legislature—a move the union believes would create accountability and stable funding for students.