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University tuition continues to climb

Oct 19, 2007 09:39 AM  

Education Reporter

Hildah Otieno has a dilemma. She cannot afford to go to university full-time but the longer she takes to finish, the costlier it becomes.

“I have to work to pay the bills,” said Otieno, 25, a second-year student in non-profit management at Ryerson University, where she logs about 25 hours a week on the overnight desk shift in a student residence. But the job, a necessity for school, rent, food and other expenses, means taking six years to complete a four-year Bachelor’s degree.

“It’s very frustrating because I want to go quicker, I just can’t,” said Otieno, who is already about $9,000 in the red. “I know once I graduate I’ll have all this debt built up.”

Statistics Canada reported yesterday that

Ontario university undergraduates are paying the third highest average tuition fees in Canada at $5,381 this year, a 4.4 per cent increase from last September. Once compulsory ancillary fees are included, the tab jumps to $6,082.

It’s the second straight annual increase in Ontario since the government of Premier Dalton McGuinty lifted a two-year freeze last year. It allows each college and university to raise tuition by an average 5 per cent annually and by as much as 8 per cent for professional programs.

Ontario’s average graduate tuition fees rose 1.7 per cent this year to $8,635, the highest in Canada and well above the national average of $5,447.

The hikes represent “a credibility gap” for McGuinty, who dubs himself the “education premier,” said Jen Hassum, chair of the Ontario chapter of the Canadian Federation of Students.

“While other provinces and other premiers are showing leadership in reducing tuition fees or at least holding the line on increases, the McGuinty government is allowing fees to climb to unaffordable levels,” Hassum said.

Nationally, the average undergraduate tuition this year is $4,524, a 2.8 per cent hike from last year. Nova Scotia is the highest at $5,878; Quebec the lowest at $2,025.

The McGuinty government counters the criticism by noting its 2005 investment of $6.2 billion in post-secondary schools, including more money for student loans and grants to those in need, has translated into record enrolment on campuses.

But critics say the combination of higher tuition and more loans is simply translating into increased student debt upon graduation.


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