The Day of Action student protests to drop tuition fees continue to exert influence over two weeks later. On November 19, the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) presented its first set of recommendations to the Ontario post-secondary education secretariat.

CFS-Ontario, an organization that represents more than 300,000 post-secondary students across the province, has divided its recommendations into categories for minor and major changes to make education more accessible. A series of submissions is set to be released over the next few weeks, with topics including credit transfer, financial aid, funding, and regional issues. This first installment deals with ancillary and tuition fees.

Riding on the Day of Action successes, CFS-Ontario focussed its attention on the province’s high tuition fees, debt loads, and youth unemployment. With most jobs requiring some post-secondary training, accessible education is paramount, according to CFS.

When the Liberals froze tuition for two years, they capped future increases at an average of five percent annually. The recommendations call for an end to those increases and a plan to gradually reduce tuition costs. All the recommendations are based on publicly available data.

“We believe that education is a right,” said Shelley Melanson, Chairperson of CFS-Ontario. “This is a historic opportunity for the way we view post-secondary education and how it plays a role in strengthening the economy.”

“We have received the CFS report and we are reviewing it,” said Patrice Butterfield, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities. “The government is committed to Ontario students having access to a high-quality post-secondary education.”

As an example of this commitment, Butterfield noted the government’s 2006 decision to implement a regulated tuition fee framework “to ensure that post-secondary education in Ontario is accessible, affordable, and of top quality.”

Butterfield also stressed that institutions cannot raise tuition levels without participating in Student Access Guarantee, a ministry initiative that ensures institutions provide students with additional financial assistance.

The current tuition framework will expire at the end of this academic year. The secretariat is currently looking at options for a new funding framework in 2010.

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