AMS joins alliance for tuition freezes

Academic Affairs Commission holds event to raise awareness for provincial-wide “Time Out” Tuition campaign

Event organizers, Joyce Wai (left) and Daniel McKeown (right), ArtSci ’16.
Event organizers, Joyce Wai (left) and Daniel McKeown (right), ArtSci ’16.
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The AMS has joined the provincial-wide “Time Out” Tuition campaign to freeze tuition in Ontario. 

The campaign was initiated by the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA), which represents over 140,000 students from seven student associations across Ontario. 

The Academic Affairs Commission ran a booth in the Queen’s Centre on Jan. 13 and 14 to raise awareness of the campaign and gain support for the initiative on Queen’s campus.

“Being able to afford a university education is obviously a big issue in Ontario,” said Daniel McKeown, external advocacy coordinator of the Academic Affairs Commission.

“Getting this message out to the government is very important and that’s what we are trying to do here today.”

The campaign (#timeoutON) is part of OUSA’s province-wide campaign to freeze tuition in 2016-17.

The organization is calling on students to lobby the provincial government for a freeze on the annual tuition increase. A fully-funded freeze would mean that students pay the same tuition each year. 

“Especially for students that pay their full way through their undergraduate degree, the tuition freeze would give some students a peace of mind just to know that tuition won’t be rising” McKeown, ArtSci ’16, said. 

On the “Time Out” Tuition! Facebook event page, the AMS asks members to consider: How much money would you save if a tuition freeze was implemented? What would you do with that money?

The average tuition increase is between three to five per cent each year, according to an OUSA’s press release. The release stated that tuition in Ontario is rising faster than inflation and government contributions, making it less affordable for students each year.

Deputy Commissioner of Policy of the Academic Affairs Commission Joyce Wai, ArtSci ’16, said the purpose of the campaign is to make waves with the government so they’re aware of the affordability issues facing students, particularly concerning rising tuition.

Within the span of 20 years, tuition as a source of operating revenue grew from 18 per cent in 1988 to 37 per cent in 2008, according to OUSA’s “Tuition Brief” report.

The report stated that tuition alone made up 45 per cent of universities’ operating budgets in 2014.

“As tuition continues to increase, students are pressured into increasing their working hours and their debt load,” the OUSA report stated.

“While changes have been made to increase OSAP funding, changes to financial air are not keeping up with rising costs.”

The press release stated that quality of education wouldn’t be impacted, as the loss in tuition would be fully subsidized by increased provincial investment in universities. OUSA asks that for every dollar that students pay, the federal and provincial governments contribute two. 

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