Tuition freeze unlikely to solve structural problems

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Freezing tuition would give students a breather, but it’s not going to win the marathon in the long run.

The AMS recently joined the “Time Out” Tuition campaign launched by the Ontario University Student Association (OUSA) to freeze tuition in Ontario for four years beginning in 2017. 

OUSA’s aim is to have the provincial government shoulder more of universities’ operating costs, which have come increasingly from tuition paid by students in recent years, according to OUSA. 

If this trend continues, at a certain point, a university education will be unaffordable for many Ontarians — it’s already close to impossible to earn an education  simply by working. 

Because the government allocates finances based on enrolment, universities are chasing higher and higher enrollment, which has a detrimental effect on the quality of education overall.

A tuition freeze wouldn’t be a bad thing, and we should applaud our student leadership for taking the initiative. 

But it’s a step, not the end goal. 

Until we ask our public funders the extent to which they value post-secondary education, we’re going to have a hard time making them put their money where their mouth is. 

As it stands, with the current fiscal climate of the provincial government, OUSA’s campaign is likely to do no more than start a conversation. 

Students need more and more from their universities, from mental health resources to financial support, career resources and better educational facilities. Getting an education isn’t likely to decrease in its costliness in the near future. 

So, a more permanent solution is needed than a four-year freeze. 

We need to take a time-out to figure out an effective formula for governmental funding that will subsidize post-secondary education to the point that it’s accessible.  

Maybe, in the short term, the solution is more need-based bursaries and scholarships so that those whose socio-economic status is a barrier to attending a post-secondary school have the same opportunities as everyone else. 

In the long term though, we will need to decide how much we value having an educated population, and how much we are willing to spend to make it a reality. 

Journal Editorial Board 

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