TORONTO, Sept. 8, 2020 /CNW/ – As students return to classes this week under unprecedented circumstances, they see an urgent need to re-imagine our post-secondary education system. Post-secondary students are returning to (primarily virtual) classes after a summer of job insecurity, inadequate financial support, and a cancelled Federal Government program that left tens of thousands of students behind.
“Students are renewing the call for barrier-free access to post-secondary education in light of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and in recognition of the urgent need to address anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism on our campuses,” said Kayla Weiler, Ontario representative for the Canadian Federation of Students. “Among the many barriers that marginalized students face, they are disproportionately impacted by the high cost of post-secondary education.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the pitfalls of institutions’ reliance on tuition fees, especially international students tuition fees. At the same time, the global reckoning with anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism calls for an urgent change to all institutions to better serve those that have been pushed to the margins.
As students in Ontario begin an academic year unlike any other, they are calling for urgent, emergency relief, and renewing the call for free education from the provincial government. They are demanding a long-term strategy for post-secondary education that works towards eliminating tuition fees through increased public funding.
These demands are part of the Education for All campaign that calls on the Ontario Government to:
- Immediately reduce tuition fees for the 2020/2021 academic year
- Provide more grants, not loans, and
- Increase public funding to gradually eliminate tuition fees for all students
“Students are not only dealing with the current crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic, they are dealing with a crisis of decades-long underfunding and privatization of post-secondary education,” said Sébastien Lalonde, Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario Chairperson.
Students urge the Ontario Government to provide emergency relief for students and invest in a long-term strategy that will make post-secondary education free and accessible for all.