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CAUT Bulletin Archives

November 2009

Students Paying More, Getting Less

[Photo: Digital Vision]
[Photo: Digital Vision]
The economic downturn is driving enrolment up at Canadian universities at a time when funding for post-secondary education is being slashed and tuition fees are rising.

About 38,000 more full-time students enrolled in universities this year — an increase of 29,000 in undergraduate and 9,000 in graduate programs from last year, according to figures released by the Associ­ation of Universities and Colleges of Canada.

The association says it’s the big­gest increase in the post-secondary sector since 2003.

But CAUT executive director James Turk says it’s no surprise more people are turning to post-secon­dary education while the economy is in such turmoil and employment opportunities are scarce.

“It’s just disappointing the government hasn’t recognized the need to boost funding to the provinces for post-secondary education to help ensure students are getting a quality education, and that they aren’t just being crammed into already overcrowded lecture halls,” he said.

CAUT has called on the government to increase the cash transfers for post-secondary education by $400 million in the next budget, and over the next three years to raise and maintain the transfer at 0.5 per cent of GDP.

The organization is also stressing the need to make post-secondary education more accessible by expanding the Canada Student Grant Program to provide additional assistance for students from low-income families and the provision of full financial assistance for all qualified Aboriginal students.

“Education is key to economic recovery,” Turk says. But education has to be accessible.

“Average tuition fees for full-time undergraduate students have increased by 3.6 per cent for the second year in a row,” he said.

“Students and paying more and more for tuition and while the government seems to recognize that education is a key pillar of economic growth, it’s not recognizing that action is needed to make quality and accessibility a priority. Rebuilding our economy shouldn’t mean shouldering students with enormous debt loads.”