The Board of Trustees approved mandatory fees for the 2019-20 school year on May 10, following significant changes to post-secondary education policy and fee structures in Ontario.
Compulsory fees will add up to $596.83, while optional fees will total $183.32.
In March, the Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities (MTCU) set up guidelines for the Student Choice Initiative (SCI), changing the way student governments and institutions charge fees to students.
The SCI was announced by the Ontario government in January, a policy that divides student fees into essential and non-essential. All fees deemed non-essential by the MTCU will become optional to students.
The guidelines state all compulsory fees must be approved by universities’ governing bodies and announced before the collection period. Institutions must set up an online portal for students to opt-out of non-essential fees.
Under the new guidelines, only services like athletics & recreations, career services, student buildings, health and counseling, academic support, student ID cards, student achievement and record, financial offices, and campus safety can be of mandatory charge for students.
Students must also be given the conditional ability to opt out of health and dental plan fees.
Under the new guidelines, the $40 JDUC redevelopment fee remains mandatory. The AMS membership fee was made optional and reduced from $89 to $51.97, but Society services such as the food bank, Queen’s Student Constables, the Peer Support Centre, and Walkhome remain mandatory.
Other Society services such as the CFRC 101.9 FM, Legal Aid, The Queen’s Journal, Sexual Assaults Centre Kingston, Sexual Health Resource Centre, and multiple bursaries were all transitioned from mandatory to optional.
“I think the Student Choice Initiative, although it generally hurt the student organizations, we do think it’s a good thing for us to be able to re-evaluate what we do and open up for collaboration, and really push the AMS forward in representation,” AMS President Auston Pierce said in an interview with The Journal.
“While there are a lot of uncertainties, we’re still really optimistic that we’ll be able to set the tone and the message, and advocate for students,” he said.
On May 24, the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario (CFS-O) announced it’s taking the Ford government to court over the SCI in an attempt to block the policy before it takes effect in September.
In its application for Judicial Review, the Federation argued for a complete repeal of the SCI, citing lack of consultations between students and the Ministry as a breach of procedural fairness.
The application also seeks an expedited court process to challenge the SCI before September arrives.
Student Choice Initiative, student fees
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