Canadian students protest against tuition fee hikes. (File photo)
Tuition fees are forcing a growing number of Canadian students to take on heavy debt loads as the fees become less affordable for Canadians.
A new report released by the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) indicated that the average tuition and compulsory fees for undergraduates have risen three times the inflation rate since 1990.
Studying at a Canadian university now costs average, $6,186 a year. This figure does not include the cost of books, food, or lodging.
The report’s coauthor, Erika Shaker, said the study intended to make an assessment of provincial governments’ endeavors to make higher education more affordable for middle-income families.
“Since 1990, with very few exceptions, the tuition fee burden across the country has been increasing faster than incomes. Between 1990 and 2011 the average annual increase in tuition fees and ancillary fees in Canada was 6.2%-nearly three times greater than the rate of inflation,” wrote Shaker.
Since February, students have been protesting against the hikes and the provincial government’s controversial anti-protest Bill 78. The protests later turned into a larger movement dubbed the “maple revolution,” which reveals deeper social unrest.
“Instead of reducing tuition fees, the majority of provincial governments have chosen to provide after-the-fact assistance such as debt relief, tax credits, or zero interest,” added Shaker. “While this can provide some modest relief for students who qualify, it does not help with the upfront costs: you can’t pay your university bill with a tax credit.”
“It is now almost three times more affordable for median-income families in Newfoundland and Labrador to send their children to university than it is for median-income families in Ontario. By 2015-16, that will have increased to four times more affordable,” she noted.