York to gauge effect of Ontario tuition plan, welcomes access measures

York University President & Vice-Chancellor Lorna R. Marsden commented yesterday on the Ontario government’s new plan for funding postsecondary education, announced earlier in the day by Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities Chris Bentley. Details of the announcement are available here.

“The multi-year tuition policy framework announced by Minister Bentley today is a welcome one,” Marsden said. “It is also complex and will affect individual universities differently. It will take time, therefore, before we can really calculate the effect that the measures announced today will have on York in particular.

“We note that tuition fee increases can vary depending on the program and the year of study. We must work through what this means for York University students and their families. We will be consulting widely in order to clarify the effects of the announcement and to develop a tuition schedule that is consistent with the University’s values, ensuring that any increases will be implemented in a way that will maintain and improve access for students.”

York University welcomed the government’s announcement outlining improvements to access. “Particularly significant is the extension of Access Grants, providing more assistance to students from low- and middle-income families. Book and supply allowance increases, frozen since the mid-1980s, also directly assist students,” said Marsden. “One of York’s founding goals was to reduce barriers to post-secondary education. We have worked with colleagues across the province to reduce, and not create barriers.

“As Ontario’s second-largest graduate school we want to continue to recruit and retain excellent graduate students, without the barrier of high and unpredictable tuition increases.  It was for this reason that in September 2005, York independently instituted a two-year tuition freeze for most of the graduate programs.

“We recognize that investment in a university degree is high. A cost increase puts a burden on our students and their families who must work hard to provide the opportunity to receive a high-quality education. During the Rae Review, we asked that the tuition portion of our funding be affordable, predictable for the length of the degree, and accessible through scholarships, bursaries and loans. We strive to offer the highest quality education, and in that we must be accountable for how we use resources that come to us through tuition, through grants and through private funding.”