No relief for students as sector cashes in

August 17, 2001

Canadian university revenues are booming but students say the extra money has done nothing to lessen their financial burdens.

Revenues rose 15.7 per cent between 1998-99 and 1999-2000. Fees rose 9.8 per cent last year and 7.9 per cent the year before.

The Statistics Canada report on university finances shows a continuing rise in government contributions after years of cutbacks. Grants and contracts from all three levels of government rose by 15 per cent.

Ian Boyko, national chair of the Canadian Federation of Students, welcomed the new, mostly research and infrastructure funds, but said that they had done nothing to reduce student debt levels, which hover at an average C$25,000 (£11,476) on graduation, nor to make undergraduate universities more accessible.

The federation will be pushing provincial governments to join five other provinces that have instituted freezes or reductions in student fees.

Nova Scotia, where student tuition fees account for 26 per cent of university revenue, and Ontario, which deregulated several graduate and professional programmes, were the worst offenders among the provinces, Mr Boyko said.

The StatsCan report also revealed how higher education is changing the way it raises funds. Sponsored research at universities showed a 23.8 per cent surge last year and a 14.3 per cent rise the year before.

The government portion of university revenue has remained at 55 per cent, with students making up 19 per cent. The rest of the revenue was derived from investments and sales of services and products.

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